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Scientists get their first look at ‘Cheddar Man,’ one of England’s oldest modern humans

Researchers have put a face on one of the oldest modern humans in England—the 10,000-year-old “Cheddar Man” from Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge—and they reveal he had blue eyes and dark skin and hair. The as-yet-unpublished ancient DNA from the nearly complete skeleton of this individual will show that he lacked genetic variants for light skin that spread later in Europeans, according to researchers at the Natural History Museum in London who have unveiled a new reconstruction; they say a scientific paper is coming later this month. Researchers already knew that some Europeans of this time had dark skin and blue eyes, but Cheddar Man reveals that previous assumptions that early inhabitants of the British Isles had lighter skin and hair were wrong—and that those traits didn’t spread through England until the past 4800 years or so.