Science has often pointed to the fact that earth’s first people were of dark skin and the idea that modern man’s roots were in the continent of Africa. On Tuesday (Feb. 6) in Britain, scientists at University College London unveiled its oldest reconstructed skeleton which reveals that the nation’s first people were also of dark to Black skin and Twitter has been alight with reaction.
As reported by The Guardian, the fossil named “Cheddar Man” was found over 100 years ago in the region of Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge inside Gough’s Cave. Although initially thought to be pale-skinned, Cheddar Man’s DNA suggests he would have had dark skin, blue eyes, and dark curly hair.
The Guardian writes:
The discovery shows that the genes for lighter skin became widespread in European populations far later than originally thought – and that skin colour was not always a proxy for geographic origin in the way it is often seen to be today.
Tom Booth, an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum who worked on the project, said: “It really shows up that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all.”
Yoan Diekmann, a computational biologist at University College London and another member of the project’s team, agreed, saying the connection often drawn between Britishness and whiteness was “not an immutable truth. It has always changed and will change”.
On Twitter, the reaction to the Cheddar Man revelation has been ongoing, knocking some people’s perception of race and natural history. We’ve collected some of the reactions below and on the following pages.
Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Image