DNA shows first modern Briton had dark skin, blue eyes

1 / 2
A full face reconstruction model made from a skull of a 10,000 year old man, Britain's oldest complete skeleton is pictured during a press preview at the National History Museum in London on Tuesday. (AFP)
2 / 2
Model makers Adrie (L) and Alfons Kennis pose with their full face reconstruction model, made from a skull of a 10,000 year old man, Britain's oldest complete skeleton, during a press preview at the National History Museum in London on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
0

DNA shows first modern Briton had dark skin, blue eyes

LONDON: The first modern Briton had dark skin and blue eyes, London scientists said on Wednesday, following groundbreaking DNA analysis of the remains of a man who lived 10,000 years ago.
Known as “Cheddar Man” after the area in southwest England where his skeleton was discovered in a cave in 1903, the ancient man has been brought to life through the first ever full DNA analysis of his remains.
In a joint project between Britain’s Natural History Museum and University College London, scientists drilled a 2mm hole into the skull and extracted bone powder for analysis.
Their findings transformed the way they had previously seen Cheddar Man, who had been portrayed as having brown eyes and light skin in an earlier model.
“It is very surprising that a Brit 10,000 years ago could have that combination of very blue eyes but really dark skin,” said the museum’s Chris Stringer, who for the past decade has analyzed the bones of people found in the cave.
The findings suggest that lighter pigmentation being a feature of populations of northern Europe is more recent than previously thought.
Cheddar Man’s tribe migrated to Britain at the end of the last Ice Age and his DNA has been linked to individuals discovered in modern-day Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg.
Selina Brace, a researcher of ancient DNA at the museum, said the cave environment Cheddar Man was found in helped preserve his remains.
“In the cave you have a really nice, cool, dry, constant environment, and that basically prevents the DNA from breaking down,” she said.
A bust of Cheddar Man, complete with shoulder-length dark hair and short facial hair, was created using 3D printing.
It took close to three months to build the model, with its makers using a high-tech scanner which had been designed for the International Space Station.
Alfons Kennis, who made the bust with his brother Adrie, said the DNA findings were “revolutionary.”
“It’s a story all about migrations throughout history,” he told Channel 4 in a documentary to be aired on February 18.
“It maybe gets rid of the idea that you have to look a certain way to be from somewhere. We are all immigrants,” he added.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 21 January 2019
0

No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths
  • With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking part in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”