Reconstructed from a ~8,000 year old skeleton from the Loschbour rock shelter in Heffingen, Luxembourg.



The stone age people, modern humans like ourselves, that we’re searching for in the Goldsborough area could perhaps be called the “first British folk”. This was the time when the rising North Sea finally cut us off from the continent—Denmark, Holland and Belgium—drowning Europe’s “lost country”, Doggerland, and we truly became the British Isles that we know today, around 6400 BC. There was even a tsunami that finished off the job about 6100 BC, sending giant waves down the east coast and wiping out the last remnants of the lowland forests, rivers and marshes.


In north-west Spain, even after seven millennia, a man’s DNA was well preserved by the atmosphere of a cool, dry cave. He would have been a hunter-gatherer, equipped with bone and stone tools and fur clothing. What might surprise us most about La Brana is not that he was different from us but that he was almost the same. His genome reveals a few minor distinctions from modern Europeans – unsurprisingly, he was likely lactose-intolerant, since he lived before the local domestication of the cow. But 7,000 years is the blink of an eye in evolutionary time. If La Brana had been adopted by a modern family, he could have walked among us, and lived as an unremarkable citizen of London or New York or Madrid.