White skin could be a far more recent human phenomenon than first thought, according to DNA uncovered from Britain's oldest, near-complete human skeleton.
Tests conducted by a team of researchers from University College London (UCL) and London's Natural History Museum found that ‘Cheddar Man’, who lived in southwest England almost 10,000 years ago, had dark to black skin and bright blue eyes.
Lighter skin pigmentation is currently attributed to northern Europeans.
Cheddar Man was a hunter-gatherer whose ancestors migrated to Europe at the end of the last Ice Age, experts say.
His skeleton was unearthed in a cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, in 1903, and is on display in London's Natural History Museum.
Scientists say 10% of indigenous British ancestry today can be linked to Cheddar Man's tribe.
His DNA, which was unusually well-preserved, was extracted from a hole drilled into his skull.
Dutch artists used his genetic information to create a 3D model of the man’s face with unprecedented accuracy, according to UCL and the Natural History Museum. It shows him to have black skin, high cheekbones, coarse black hair and pale blue eyes.
The project was undertaken as part of a television documentary to be broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4.
The First Brit, Secrets Of The 10,000-year-old Man will air on February 18.