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Thread: Blue-eyed, dark-skinned, earliest modern Briton.

  1. #481
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    Quote Originally Posted by A Norfolk L-M20 View Post
    The flint waste core that I'm holding in my hand in my avatar. That's a micro blade core. Most likely Later Mesolithic. I picked it up back in my survey days in Thetford Forest. I also recorded a number of microliths and a tranchet axehead. All most likely, dating from the British Mesolithic. That period was my favourite back then. We didn't have any genetic data, the in vogue hypothesis was that there may have been a transition in Britain from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic. Forest clearances for hazel nut production. Management of red deer herds. It was the height of pots are not people, or in this case, classes of flint artefact are not people. But as I've shared before, I like to time travel - to imagine how things were in the past, if we could see them from a time machine. That's the passion behind my interest in the past - and I feed it with archaeology, local history, genealogy, and now, population genetics. If we could go back and see the people living in the old British wildwoods. Bands of hunter-foragers, thinly scattered across that changing environment. It's romantic, because we see them as relatively untainted by greed and exploitation. The Age before we discovered labour. We have to be careful not to invoke the Noble Savage bias.

    Cheddar Man until recently, was thought to be older than 9,100 years in age. He was thought to be an Upper Palaeolithic hunter. Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, had been used by these earlier Ice Age hunters. I haven't been there for years, but I did visit the site a long time ago.

    Now DNA studies strongly suggest that the Late Mesolithic peoples of Britain were largely replaced or displaced by peoples arriving from the Continent, that carried the artifacts of the Neolithic Revolution - domesticated cereals, livestock, polished flint, fired ceramics, and earth work monuments. We understand that this Revolution started in the Fertile Crescent, and catapulted across Europe from Anatolia and the Levant. Most likely by more than one route. One across land, the other hopping along the Mediterranean, and perhaps then the Atlantic Seaboard. The Neolithic Farmers carried the genetic markers of Anatolia and Levant. However, we know that as they spread across the Continent towards North West Europe, they did, at least it seems, admix with hunter-forager populations on the way. We still carry it seems, some DNA from Later Mesolithic Europeans. We don't know if they also admixed within Britain.

    However, a few thousand years later - if you support the hypothesis, DNA evidence suggests that the Neolithic farmers of Britain, possibly already waning, were almost totally replaced by new populations from the Continent, with at least one migration from the Lower Rhine Valley to South East Britain. They brought the Bell Beaker culture.

    I'm surprised and a little disappointed over the interest in Cheddar Man's skin tone. It's interesting, and right at this moment, with evidence from La Bruna, and possibly soon to emerge from Ireland, it all seems to fit. A lot of us thought that melanin levels reduced in Europeans during late prehistory, possibly as an adaptation in part to an agricultural diet in the North. I hear lots of accusations of political bias and "correctness". However, you also have conspiracy theory, and anti-science on the other side of the coin. I don't understand why the fuss.

    For myself - based on what we currently know, I can imagine now, with my own level of personal bias (which we all have), just what that person that dropped that waste core, that I picked up 6,000 - 8,000 years later, looked like. It's fuel for my imagination. Bring on more evidence and let's learn more. This is the power of ancient DNA and our new developing tools.

    It is considered that the Cheddar man was a part of the Maglemosian mesolithic culture. The same culture extended up to Denmark. On the North Sea coast several hunter-gatherer cultures appear at the onset of LBK in mainland Europe. In the Netherlands we have a cultural continuation from the mesolithic up until deeply into Corded Ware culture. Mesolithic -> Swifterband Culture (local Ertebolla) -> Vlaardingen Culture.

    Chances are that the onslaught of Bell Beaker carried as much ancestry of Cheddar man as it removed.

    EDIT: That is, if you buy into the Dutch origin hypothesis

    EDIT_2: Good story. I don't know my uniparental markers, I am here for the discoveries as well. It is unbelievable, we used to think these things were unresolveable. And now we live in area where we know - Not just suspect but know - that the Sima de los Huesos samples were proto-Neanderthals but with strange maternal ancestry. Unbelievable, such spectacular times we live in.
    Last edited by epoch; 02-13-2018 at 10:09 PM.

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    Last edited by curiousII; 02-14-2018 at 05:03 AM.
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  6. #484
    East Asians, for example, lack both the derived variants of SLC24A5 and SLC45A2 common in Europeans but are often quite light-skinned. A deeper analysis of the pigmentation architecture of WHG might lead us to conclude that they were an olive or light brown-skinned people. This is my suspicion because modern Arctic peoples are neither pale white nor dark brown, but of various shades of olive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sktibo View Post
    With the physical comparison I was not so much referencing skin colour as I was the appearance of the face
    I think the artist of Stonehenge man made his skin probably a good bit lighter than it was. Off the top of my head, Neolithic people had some lighter skinned SNPs than the WHG types but I imagine they were still darker than modern Britons.
    As always we need more data on this very complex subject, but from memory Ballynhatty was likely black haired and brown eyed so in my mind I can imagine someone Southern European looking. Of course this might not have been the only phenotype in Neolithic isles.

    I think Rathlin was likely fairer so based on current evidence I do get the impression that the Indo-Europeans (bell beaker) were the main drivers for light skin tone in the isles. Interestingly, a lot of the general histories written about Britain in the early 20th century refer to taller and fairer Celts displacing an earlier, darker people. The historians of the time were of course influenced by classical accounts, eg Tacitus and the Silures, but also by skeletal remains of Neolithic people found in long barrows.

    So, I wonder, maybe the historians of the early 20th century weren't that far off, although in their accounts the arrival of the Celts was dated to the Iron Age.

  9. #486
    "We’re not extremely confident that he had very dark skin after the past few years when it’s clear pigmentation genetics involves more than just a few major loci. Seeing as how selection methods have detected lots of sweeps for skin lightening alleles over the last 5,000 years in Northern Europe, it seems implausible that they were as light as modern Northern Europeans, but not necessarily dark."

    More from Razib Khan. He seems like interesting guy with integrity.

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    There's a clear environmental advantage to having lighter skin in as you move away from the equator, specifically if your diet can't provide you with enough vitamin D (which is what would have happened when people took to growing cereal crops), however what are the advantages to having light hair and eyes ?

    There is a theory people with blue eyes are less likely to get depressed in lower light levels but I have hard time (assuming this is true) excepting that could have produced such a large change over a relatively short space of time.

    Sexual preference for the unusual has been researched and seems real enough but if that's the cause why do we only really see variations in eye and hair colour in northern Europe ?

    Anyhow I've just came across this article which is a bit old so may have been overturned but sounds plausible.

    Why Do Europeans Have So Many Hair and Eye Colors?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdean View Post
    There's a clear environmental advantage to having lighter skin in as you move away from the equator, specifically if your diet can't provide you with enough vitamin D (which is what would have happened when people took to growing cereal crops), however what are the advantages to having light hair and eyes ?

    There is a theory people with blue eyes are less likely to get depressed in lower light levels but I have hard time (assuming this is true) excepting that could have produced such a large change over a relatively short space of time.

    Sexual preference for the unusual has been researched and seems real enough but if that's the cause why do we only really see variations in eye and hair colour in northern Europe ?

    Anyhow I've just came across this article which is a bit old so may have been overturned but sounds plausible.

    Why Do Europeans Have So Many Hair and Eye Colors?
    A question I've asked a couple of times but no-one has commented on, is if this Cheddar chap is typical of the European population at this time and he had blue eyes, what happened to the blue eyed - people in Southern Europe? Something seems a bit odd about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnHowellsTyrfro View Post
    A question I've asked a couple of times but no-one has commented on, is if this Cheddar chap is typical of the European population at this time and he had blue eyes, what happened to the blue eyed - people in Southern Europe? Something seems a bit odd about that.
    How so?...Southern Europe was settled by Neolithic farmers earlier and in much larger numbers than Northern Europe. The population turnover was more complete in Southern Europe. That plus most of Southern Europe also received later migrants from Bronze and Iron Age West Asia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnHowellsTyrfro View Post
    A question I've asked a couple of times but no-one has commented on, is if this Cheddar chap is typical of the European population at this time and he had blue eyes, what happened to the blue eyed - people in Southern Europe? Something seems a bit odd about that.
    According to the article they're still there but in smaller numbers than further north.

    According to the Bell Beaker preprint there was an almost complete population turn around in Britain when they arrived so presumably a lot of the light hair and eye mutations present here today were brought with them but if so that doesn't explain where and when they picked them up. Southern Europe has a greater amount of Early Farmer ancestry than Northern Europe who probably didn't suffer the same environmental pressures used to explain the change in phenotypes in the article I linked to

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