Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cheddar man

Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton - dating to approximately 7150 B.C. - was excavated in 1903. The remains of an adult male who had died a violent death (and may have been cannibalized) were found in a cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Living just a half mile from the site, schoolteacher Adrian Targett asked his class to participate in a study commissioned as part of a television documentary. Samples of mitochondrial DNA from the cheek cells of his 15 pupils at the Kings of Wessex school, from Targett himself, and from 5 adults from old Cheddar families were compared to mitochondrial DNA extracted from Cheddar Man's tooth. The longest human lineage ever traced - 9,000 years - belonged to none other than Mr. Targett! "I am overwhelmed, a bit surprised," he said at the time. Caveman jokes have been circulating at the school ever since. ''I'm thinking of writing to the Marquess of Bath, who owns these caves, and saying, 'I'd like my cave back.' ...All those times I'd visited this cave before, and I'd never realized I was going home.''

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