Featured image of Cheddar Man Reconstructed with DNA, 3D Scanning & 3D Printing
In Your Face

Cheddar Man Reconstructed with DNA, 3D Scanning & 3D Printing

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Feb 14, 2018

A facial reconstruction of the oldest complete British skeleton, the Cheddar Man, is made from DNA analysis, 3D scanning and printing. 

In 1903, researchers discovered the skeleton of what is believed to be one of the early settlers of Britain in Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge. The skeleton became known as the Cheddar Man and researchers have long been trying to reconstruct its face.

The reconstruction of the Cheddar Man’s face was previously based on guesswork. It has long been assumed that the face of the man who lived 10,000 years ago was pale skinned and fair haired.

But thanks to modern technologies like DNA analysis, 3D scanning and 3D printing, the actual face of Cheddar Man is rather different to what researchers first believed.

In fact, Cheddar Man had dark skin with dark, curly hair and striking blue eyes. This update changes our understanding of how lighter pigmentation spread through Europe. Dr Tom Booth from Britain’s Natural History Museum, explains:

“Until recently it was always assumed that humans quickly adapted to have paler skin after entering Europe about 45,000 years ago. Pale skin is better at absorbing UV light and helps humans avoid vitamin D deficiency in climates with less sunlight.”

cheddar man

Cheddar Man Hits the Small Screen

Scientists from University College London (UCL) and the Natural History Museum worked together to use newly available DNA analysis, 3D scanning and printing to reconstruct the Cheddar Man’s face.

They began by drilling a 2mm hole in his skull to collect the ancient DNA. This information was then used by reconstruction specialists. A 3D scan was taken which helped create a 3D model of the skull.

For the printing stage, Minke Van Voorthuizen was enlisted. She used an Ultimaker 3 Extended machine and printed using PLA with PVA support pillars. The print took 13 hours as it didn’t need to be highly detailed. This printed model was used to protect the fragile fossil and provide the foundation for the reconstruction.

Researchers believe Cheddar Man emigrated from Africa via the Middle East when Britain was still connected to Europe. He was 5 ft 5″ and would have been a hunter-gatherer.

“Cheddar Man’s genetic profile places him with several other Mesolithic-era Europeans from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg whose DNA has already been analyzed,” explains Professor Thomas from UCL.

“These ‘Western Hunter-Gatherer’s’ migrated into Europe at the end of the last Ice Age and the group included Cheddar Man’s ancestors.”

Cheddar Man has received a huge amount of attention from the British public and press. This Sunday, Channel 4 is broadcasting “First Brits: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man”.

Via: TCT Magazine

cheddar man

License: The text of "Cheddar Man Reconstructed with DNA, 3D Scanning & 3D Printing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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