Friday, March 02, 2012

Cheddar Man & Me

ח׳ באדר תשע"ב
Keowulf 10
Ash 13

I'm in the same (broad U5) mtDNA motherline haplogroup as Cheddar Man.

Cheddar Man is the name given to the remains of a human male found in Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. The remains date to approximately 7150 BC, and it appears that he died a violent death. It is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton.

In 1996, Bryan Sykes of Oxford University first sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of Cheddar Man, with DNA extracted from one of Cheddar Man's molars. Cheddar Man was determined to have belonged to Haplogroup U5, a branch of mitochondrial haplogroup U, which has also been found in other Mesolithic human remains. Sykes got DNA from the 9,000 year old Cheddar Man's tooth, and from a 12,000 year old Cheddar tooth from the same cave.

Bryan Sykes' research into Cheddar Man was filmed as he performed it in 1997. As a means of connecting Cheddar Man to the living residents of Cheddar village, he compared mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) taken from twenty living residents of the village to that extracted from Cheddar Man’s molar. It produced two exact matches and one match with a single mutation. The two exact matches were schoolchildren, and their names were not released. The close match was a history teacher named Adrian Targett. They, like anyone else carrying haplogroup U5 today, share an ancestor of many thousands of years ago with Cheddar Man through his maternal line.

Sykes argued that this modern connection to Cheddar Man (who died at least three thousand years before agriculture began in Britain) makes credible the theory that modern-day Britons are not all descended from Middle Eastern migratory farmers who entered Britain about 10,000 years ago. Instead, many modern Britons (and many modern Europeans generally) may be descended from ancient European Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherer tribes, who adopted farming much later.


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