Flopsie Black

UCL and the Natural History Museum has done some work on the DNA of “Cheddar Man”, a UK resident of around 10,000 years ago who has been remarkably well-preserved in a cave, rotting only slowly. They have concluded that he was probably quite dark-skinned with blue eyes. They might or might not be right about that. They got the talented Dutch identical twin modellers – the Kennis brothers – to a 3-D representation of what he might have looked like according to that view before he started rotting. Here is the result, as it appears on the Kennis and Kennis Reconstructions website:

Kennis blackNow the flopsies, of course, just love this story. Here is the picture as it appears in the Guardian website:

Guardian black

Am I alone in noting that the Guardian version looks quite a bit blacker? Has someone, somewhere, thought it a good wheeze to poke those Little Englanders in the eye a bit harder by blacking up the picture a shade or two? Easily enough done.

The Independent has gone for a slightly different hue again – theirs is a bit redder:

Independent black

The is no need to guess what their angle is; they carry this commentary from Mark Steel:

The discovery that this cave dweller from 10,000 years ago was black – meaning that British cavemen were black – will cause a huge amount of office work. Because British racists will have to rewrite their leaflets and redesign their websites, and start shouting, “This country should be for BRITISH people with pure BRITISH blood, for the true BLACK race, not these white immigrants that have come over here diluting our British genes.”

The reality, of course, is that Caucasians (including the English) owe their modern characteristics to their 3 or 4% of Neanderthal genes – a result of interbreeding (probably between about 10 thousand years ago and 3 thousand years ago); it is hardly surprising if the first homo sapiens arrivals at the end of the last ice age would have looked more like modern day Africans (who have no Neanderthal genes).

The blue eyes is an interesting twist.


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