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Old 7th February 2018, 05:39 AM   #1
Vixen
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Early Briton ancestor 'had dark skin and blue eyes'

People with an interest in ancient history and archaeology will have known of this for a long time. Now that the Natural History Museum (NHM) has reconstructed a model of 'Cheddar Man', so-called as the remains were found in Cheddar Gorge, West England, near Bristol, at Gough's Cave.

The NHM has a fascinating section in the Red Zone dedicated to Human Evolution and includes life-size models of various branches of the Homo- species, such as Neanderthalsis, so-named after the region it was discovered in.

Thanks to lurid headlines about the individual's skin and eye colour, it has attracted a lot of media interest.

This is good in terms of educating the masses, but not exactly news, surely?

Quote:
First modern Britons had 'dark to black' skin, Cheddar Man DNA analysis reveals
The genome of Cheddar Man, who lived 10,000 years ago, suggests that he had blue eyes, dark skin and dark curly hair.


The fossil, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Gough’s Cave in Somerset. Intense speculation has built up around Cheddar Man’s origins and appearance because he lived shortly after the first settlers crossed from continental Europe to Britain at the end of the last ice age. People of white British ancestry alive today are descendants of this population.

Apparently, many people are very upset about this and have taken to social media to express scepticism.

Discuss.

Mod InfoThread moved from Social Issues & Current Events.
Posted By:zooterkin
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:47 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Apparently, many people are very upset about this and have taken to social media to express scepticism.

Discuss.
I can imagine some racist far-right groups getting 'upset' about it, but that's about all.
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:48 AM   #3
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I'm curious about it, as I had previously thought that eye pigment and skin colour had evolved together.
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:54 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I'm curious about it, as I had previously thought that eye pigment and skin colour had evolved together.
Not an isolated find, it seems:

"La Braña 1, name used to baptize a 7,000 years old individual from the Mesolithic Period, whose remains were recovered at La Braña-Arintero site in Valdelugueros (León, Spain) had blue eyes and dark skin."
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:55 AM   #5
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Artisanally cave aged Cheddar Man?
The first Britons must have been hipsters.
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Old 7th February 2018, 05:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I'm curious about it, as I had previously thought that eye pigment and skin colour had evolved together.
Skin colour is to do with two genes named SLC45A2 and SLC24A5, and are associated with variation in skin color in people of European and African descent.

Eye colour is associated with a gene called OCA2 that affects how much brown pigment your cells produce. People with 1 or 2 copies of the A variant of this marker tend to have more brown pigment in their eyes, so they are likely to have darker eyes.

Other factors include:

Quote:
Brown pigment is only part of the story. What else makes your eyes unique?

Light scattering: There's no blue pigment in blue eyes. Instead, this color shows up in people with almost no brown pigment because of blue wavelengths of light that hit the eye and scatter back.

Yellow/red pigment: A yellow/red pigment molecule called pheomelanin can combine with different levels of blue light scattering and brown pigment to create green and hazel.

Rings: Some people have a darker ring around the inner edge of the iris. Almost everyone has a dark ring around the outer edge of the iris called the limbal ring.

Crypts: Some people have gaps, called crypts, between the cells in one of the layers of their irises. This can give the iris a marbled or starburst look.
Source: 23andme
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Old 7th February 2018, 06:04 AM   #7
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So, like Thulsa Doom, then?
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Old 7th February 2018, 06:25 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I can imagine some racist far-right groups getting 'upset' about it, but that's about all.
Yep. Here's a little scenario I dreamed up; imagine that the ancestors of those white supremacist types were black (obviously they were, due to being from Africa initially) and were still black up until not many thousands of years ago. Also imagine that our species was directly responsible for wiping out the white neanderthals (assuming they were white; given where they lived, and for how long, this is likely). So, the black ancestors of those white supremacist types were responsible for wiping out a bunch of perfectly decent white folk! How can they sleep at night!
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Old 7th February 2018, 06:54 AM   #9
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I feel reckless, I would be willing to place a small bet that your dreamed up scenario is pretty close to the truth.
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Old 7th February 2018, 07:01 AM   #10
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I do find the dating interesting. I would have expected the populations in Northern Europe to already be well on their way to light skin by 8000 BCE.

However one of the final paragraphs mentioned something:

Quote:
Scientists believe that populations living in Europe became lighter-skinned over time because pale skin absorbs more sunlight, which is required to produce enough vitamin D. The latest findings suggest pale skin may have emerged later, possibly when the advent of farming meant people were obtaining less vitamin D though dietary sources like oily fish.
I hadn't considered the possible multi-variate causes of pale skin, but this makes a certain amount of sense. Inuit populations have darker skin, despite living in arctic conditions, but I knew that was because their diet made "paling" unnecessary. It should have been obvious that the same was true elsewhere. It is interesting to think that it was only the advent of farming, and Vitamin D deficiency in the food supply, that may have triggered the need for environmental adaptation of skin color.
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Old 7th February 2018, 07:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Fizil View Post
I do find the dating interesting..
Marriage is even better.
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Old 7th February 2018, 07:05 AM   #12
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But not as good as the real thing.
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Old 7th February 2018, 07:48 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jonesdave116 View Post
Yep. Here's a little scenario I dreamed up; imagine that the ancestors of those white supremacist types were black (obviously they were, due to being from Africa initially) and were still black up until not many thousands of years ago. Also imagine that our species was directly responsible for wiping out the white neanderthals (assuming they were white; given where they lived, and for how long, this is likely). So, the black ancestors of those white supremacist types were responsible for wiping out a bunch of perfectly decent white folk! How can they sleep at night!
But you forgot to take into effect that modern Europeans are 3% Neanderthal, and that the interbreeding only worked one way. Somebody was stealing some deficient women. Heathens.
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Old 7th February 2018, 07:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Fizil View Post
I hadn't considered the possible multi-variate causes of pale skin, but this makes a certain amount of sense. Inuit populations have darker skin, despite living in arctic conditions, but I knew that was because their diet made "paling" unnecessary. It should have been obvious that the same was true elsewhere. It is interesting to think that it was only the advent of farming, and Vitamin D deficiency in the food supply, that may have triggered the need for environmental adaptation of skin color.
Very interesting, and it makes sense that the adaptation of light skin didn't become neccessary until our diets changed.

It does raise a question for me... Neanderthals are usually thought to be fairskinned, but they were hunter-gatherers too as ar as I know.

Was their change in skin color due to a different mutation or selection pressure? Did they require more vitamin D to function, or were they not as good at synthesizing it as we were?
Or is it just that they've been in northern regions for so long that a relatively small selection pressure on skin color had enough time to affect the population, regardless of diet?

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Old 7th February 2018, 10:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Porpoise of Life View Post
Very interesting, and it makes sense that the adaptation of light skin didn't become neccessary until our diets changed.

It does raise a question for me... Neanderthals are usually thought to be fairskinned, but they were hunter-gatherers too as ar as I know.

Was their change in skin color due to a different mutation or selection pressure? Did they require more vitamin D to function, or were they not as good at synthesizing it as we were?
Or is it just that they've been in northern regions for so long that a relatively small selection pressure on skin color had enough time to affect the population, regardless of diet?
They possibly had much more bodily hair, which would act as a vacuum keeping cold air out (rather like an animal pelt)? Just a guess, based AIUI the fact indigenous Africans have little body hair. Perhaps Neanderthals were thinner on top, to absorb more sun. But who knows?

The article says it is a 76% probability the Cheddar guy had dark skin, which means there is a 24% chance he did not.
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Old 7th February 2018, 11:16 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
But you forgot to take into effect that modern Europeans are 3% Neanderthal, and that the interbreeding only worked one way. Somebody was stealing some deficient women. Heathens.
My God! So you are saying that not only did the black ancestors of the white supremacists wipe out a bunch of white people, but they also raped the women?
These people have got some serious explaining to do!
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Old 7th February 2018, 02:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Fizil View Post
.....Inuit populations have darker skin, despite living in arctic conditions, but I knew that was because their diet made "paling" unnecessary. It should have been obvious that the same was true elsewhere. It is interesting to think that it was only the advent of farming, and Vitamin D deficiency in the food supply, that may have triggered the need for environmental adaptation of skin color.
They have also only been dwelling in the Arctic for a short time, evolutionary. They are eastern Asians. Perhaps an acestral ree of the Sammi of Finland would tell us how long?
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Old 8th February 2018, 01:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Somebody was stealing some deficient women. Heathens.
fortunate cattle can't interbreed....
.with humans
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Old 8th February 2018, 04:28 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I can imagine some racist far-right groups getting 'upset' about it, but that's about all.
Why else would MSM put this on their front pages? If it ain't racist, misogynistic, ant-gay or Trump-hate it won't sell! This story fits right in.

From the OP:
Quote:
Thanks to lurid headlines about the individual's skin and eye colour, it has attracted a lot of media interest.
This isn't science, this is politics.
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Old 8th February 2018, 04:32 PM   #20
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I keep reading the thread title as "Early Bitcoin Ancestor..."
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Old 8th February 2018, 04:40 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
People with an interest in ancient history and archaeology will have known of this for a long time. ... This is good in terms of educating the masses, but not exactly news, surely?
News to me. Thanks for posting it.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I can imagine some racist far-right groups getting 'upset' about it, but that's about all.
Totally.

Originally Posted by jonesdave116 View Post
Yep. Here's a little scenario I dreamed up; imagine that the ancestors of those white supremacist types were black (obviously they were, due to being from Africa initially) and were still black up until not many thousands of years ago. Also imagine that our species was directly responsible for wiping out the white neanderthals (assuming they were white; given where they lived, and for how long, this is likely). So, the black ancestors of those white supremacist types were responsible for wiping out a bunch of perfectly decent white folk! How can they sleep at night!
Good one.

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Old 8th February 2018, 07:38 PM   #22
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Perhaps if the dark skin had stuck I wouldn't have had so many stinkin' skin cancers!
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Old 8th February 2018, 07:42 PM   #23
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It's our sunlight-deprived existence here in Washington, keeping us melanin-challenged, along with the annoyingly clean air not blocking the sun's rays enough.
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Old 8th February 2018, 08:20 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by deadrose View Post
It's our sunlight-deprived existence here in Washington, keeping us melanin-challenged, along with the annoyingly clean air not blocking the sun's rays enough.
And I was originally from Montana, where the sun shines more and the air is even cleaner.
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Old 8th February 2018, 09:23 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by jonesdave116 View Post
Yep. Here's a little scenario I dreamed up; imagine that the ancestors of those white supremacist types were black (obviously they were, due to being from Africa initially)
But is obvious that the people leaving Africa were black? How do we know this?
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Old 9th February 2018, 05:50 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Perhaps if the dark skin had stuck I wouldn't have had so many stinkin' skin cancers!
I can't help but wonder* what some people would have picked to distinguish "good people" from "bad people" if that were true.
Because they sure would have picked something, maybe to do with hair.

*I could not help it, I don't now why I wondered that, it happens I suppose.
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Old 9th February 2018, 08:47 AM   #27
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Don't I recall the the "not brown eyes" mutation can be theoretically tracked to one person? Time?

eta: 6-10,000 years ago. Dunno what that says about Cheddar man.
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Old 9th February 2018, 10:47 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
But is obvious that the people leaving Africa were black? How do we know this?
Well, given that the current peoples of Africa are black (with the exception of ancestors of immigrants from elsewhere), then I guess it is fair to assume that the people who left there 60 - 70 000 years ago also were. Otherwise, the scenario is that they were lighter, but then developed darker skin after leaving, which eventually lightened again at some point in their future.
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Old 9th February 2018, 11:21 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I keep reading the thread title as "Early Bitcoin Ancestor..."
OMFSM, that is the best!
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Old 9th February 2018, 04:08 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
But is obvious that the people leaving Africa were black? How do we know this?
The two skin colour genes mentioned in the OP. It is not so much that the originating Africans were dark skinned, but rather, almost all Europeans and half of all African Americans today (according to 23andme) have this 'depigmentising' gene. In other words Europeans are 'depigmentised' blacks.

Strangely, these 'depigmentising' genes are not found in Asian populations.

To make things more complicated, Asians have the highest percentage of Neanderthal genes. Africans have none. So maybe, logically, the Neanderthals were never dark enough to be 'depigmented'...?

I tend to go along with the theory Homo Sapiens originated in the Middle East, ventured afar, and were then beaten back to the warmer climes, including Africa, by the last ice age (LGM) some 18K years ago, and then ventured back into Europe, some 10K years ago, whereas the Asians around the equator zone, never left, hence no dark genes to 'depigment'.


ETA: Here's the science AIUI:

The depigmentation gene is caused by a variant from G to A, to give A -A in the DNA sequence of the SLC24A5 gene, Marker: rs1426654.

from 23andme:

Quote:
Percent of 23andMe customers with variant
Variant: A
European
100.00%
African American
55.3%
Ashkenazi Jewish
100.00%
East Asian
2.73%
Hispanic or Latino
92.7%
South Asian
95.3%
Middle Eastern
99.9%
The other salient skin colour gene, Gene: SLC45A2
Marker: rs16891982 is marked by a change from a C to a G in the DNA sequence of the SLC45A2 gene.

Quote:
Percent of 23andMe customers with variant
Variant: G
European
99.6%
African American
47.9%
Ashkenazi Jewish
99.0%
East Asian
0.81%
Hispanic or Latino
87.2%
South Asian
18.3%
Middle Eastern
80.4%

As you can see, Asians have very little to none of either gene, thus must always have had that skin tone.
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Old 11th February 2018, 06:33 PM   #31
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A question then; If diet provoked reactions resulting in fair skin, does a modern. healthy diet lead to a relaxation in that requirement? Are our ancestors likely to revert to darker skin tones because there is a reduced drive to produce natural vitamin D?
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Old 11th February 2018, 08:46 PM   #32
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Pan African Afrocentrists are going to jump on this for sure...
"See, we told you Hannibal was black"
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Old 11th February 2018, 10:43 PM   #33
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:53 AM   #34
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Kudos to the reconstructor. They managed to get just a hint of expression in the face and that helps make it look oddly familiar.

But every time I see "Cheddar Man" I think it's refering to his complexion texture.
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Old 12th February 2018, 06:04 AM   #35
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George Hamilton? Nope, brown eyes. Plus I don't think he's quite old enough..
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Old 12th February 2018, 06:09 AM   #36
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What's great to see in the reconstruction of the face is that the facial features of Cheddar Man don't really correspond to any of our current races.

Yes, he might have been 'black', but he didn't look like a modern day sub-Saharan African or Melanasian person would look. And me might be an ancestor of later British populations, but he doesn't look particularly 'European' either.

Which just goes to show that our current ideas of race don't really apply to our ancestors that much.
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Old 12th February 2018, 06:58 AM   #37
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Way back when I was reading the fantasy novels of Robert E. Howard (Conan, Kull...), he did a series featuring “Bran Mak Morn”, a Pictish warrior.
He described the Picts as the “indigenous” inhabitants of Britain, and being “dark and swarthy”...
Howard tended to make up most of his anthropology, but maybe he got this right....
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Old 12th February 2018, 02:39 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
The two skin colour genes mentioned in the OP. It is not so much that the originating Africans were dark skinned, but rather, almost all Europeans and half of all African Americans today (according to 23andme) have this 'depigmentising' gene. In other words Europeans are 'depigmentised' blacks.

Strangely, these 'depigmentising' genes are not found in Asian populations.

To make things more complicated, Asians have the highest percentage of Neanderthal genes. Africans have none. So maybe, logically, the Neanderthals were never dark enough to be 'depigmented'...?

I tend to go along with the theory Homo Sapiens originated in the Middle East, ventured afar, and were then beaten back to the warmer climes, including Africa, by the last ice age (LGM) some 18K years ago, and then ventured back into Europe, some 10K years ago, whereas the Asians around the equator zone, never left, hence no dark genes to 'depigment'.


ETA: Here's the science AIUI:

The depigmentation gene is caused by a variant from G to A, to give A -A in the DNA sequence of the SLC24A5 gene, Marker: rs1426654.

from 23andme:



The other salient skin colour gene, Gene: SLC45A2
Marker: rs16891982 is marked by a change from a C to a G in the DNA sequence of the SLC45A2 gene.




As you can see, Asians have very little to none of either gene, thus must always have had that skin tone.
Actually it is even somewhat more complicated than that. Additional loci contribute, some alterations that make for lighter skin in Europeans are also found in Africa, and some gene variants that arose in Eurasia migrated back into Africa.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/...man-skin-color

An origin of all modern humans in Africa some 300,000+ years ago, and their migrations within Africa, rather than within middle east, seem pretty strongly supported by the and by the bulk of other studies.
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Old 12th February 2018, 03:11 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
Kudos to the reconstructor. They managed to get just a hint of expression in the face and that helps make it look oddly familiar.

But every time I see "Cheddar Man" I think it's refering to his complexion texture.

I picture a diary-based superhero, but I can't imagine what his superpower would be.
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Old 12th February 2018, 04:06 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
I picture a diary-based superhero, but I can't imagine what his superpower would be.
Turning water into cheese?
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