Early Briton had dark skin, blue eyes: Study

A Briton from 10,000 years ago had blue eyes, dark coloured curly hair and "dark to black" skin pigmentation, shows DNA analysis of Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest nearly complete skeleton.

The findings suggests that the lighter pigmentation now considered to be a defining feature of northern Europe is a far more recent phenomenon than commonly assumed.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers from London's Natural History Museum, University College London scientists, DNA specialists and prehistoric model makers, for a new Channel 4 documentary, First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man.

The documentary will air on Channel 4 on February 18, UCL said in a news release on Wednesday.

"Cheddar Man's genetic profile places him with several other Mesolithic-era Europeans from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg whose DNA has already been analysed," said Professor Mark Thomas of UCL.

"These 'Western Hunter-Gatherer's' migrated into Europe at the end of the last ice age and the group included Cheddar Man's ancestors," Thomas said.

Cheddar Man was unearthed in 1903 and has been the topic of constant mystery and intrigue.

For over 100 years, scientists have tried to reveal his story, posing theories as to what he looked like, where he came from and what he can tell us about ancestors.

Only now with cutting-edge DNA and facial reconstruction, it has become possible for people to see for the first time the face of this 10,000 year old man, and ask how 300 generations later he relates to them today.