The reconstruction of ‘Cheddar Man’ – the potential of ancient DNA for human demography and phenotyping

06 Mar 2019

Modern humans arrived in Europe around 45 thousand years ago (kya), but were nearly driven out during the Last Glacial Maximum 25-19kya when large parts of Europe were covered in ice. By the major warming period starting ~14kya, hunter-gatherers had re-populated the continent including Britain, which has been continuously inhabited ever since.

'Cheddar Man' is one of the 'first Brits', with ~10ky Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton excavated in 1903 in Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. As part of our ancient British population genomics project, we had the privilege to sequence Cheddar Man's genome, resulting in ~10GB of 10ky old A's, C's, G's and T's. Somewhere hidden in this enormous puzzle lie the answers: what population did Cheddar Man belong to? What's his genetic legacy today? And how did he look?

Yoan Diekmann, Research Associate - UCL