Adrian Targett: The British Man Who Traced His Family Back 9,000 Years

According to Genealogy You, most family lineage can be reliably traced to the 1600s. With the prevalence of DNA testing services like, among others, people now know more about their genealogy than ever before. As the Independent reports, in 1997 a British man named Adrian Targett living in Cheddar, Somerset in Southwest England took a DNA test as part of a larger study. The results of that test linked Targett to ancient remains uncovered years earlier which dated back some 9,000 years in prehistory.

The DNA that Targett matched with belonged to the so-called "Cheddar Man" who lived about 10,000 years ago in the Cheddar area. The remains of the Cheddar Man, pictured above circa 1935, are the oldest ever found in England. They were discovered in 1903 in Cheddar Cave in Cheddar Gorge, in the Somerset countryside. At the time Cheddar Man's remains were recovered, there was no such thing as a DNA test. By 1997, though, DNA testing came about, and as a result, samples from Cheddar's Man's tooth were compared to those taken from local residents with families known to have lived in the Cheddar area for centuries.

The DNA test was part of a TV show

As the Independent goes on to note, the DNA test that Adrian Targett and others participated in was part of a TV show on the history of the Somerset area called "Once Upon a Time in the West." The test was performed by Oxford University's Institute of Molecular Medicine, and 20 Cheddar residents, including Targett (pictured) decided to participate. As of the Independent's 1997 report, he had no children. Cheddar Man was a hunter-gatherer in that area of Southwestern England, which at that time was lush with wildlife.

Otherwise, Cheddar Man was much like a modern human, as The Independent goes on to note. Notably, DNA tests on the remains of Cheddar Man revealed he likely had dark hair and skin with blue eyes, based on reporting from The Guardian. Prior to Targett's match — which now holds the Guinness World Record for farthest traced descendant by DNA (via Guinness World Records) — the British Royal Family traced their genealogy to King Ecgbert who lived around 800 A.D. Two male descendants of Chinese philosopher Confucious who lived in the eighth century B.C. have also been identified.

Targett and Cheddar Man have a common maternal ancestor

Adrian Targett matched with Cheddar Man on his mitochondrial DNA meaning Targett, a modern-day school teacher, and Cheddar Man had a common maternal ancestor some 300 generations back in history. The revelation redefines what it means when someone says they have family living in the same area as far back as anyone can remember. Targett even sees a family resemblance in terms of his own nose shape and eye color based on a facial reconstruction of what Cheddar Man may have looked like (pictured above), according to The Archaeologist.

On the news that he was related to Cheddar Man, Targett told the Independent "I'm absolutely overwhelmed ... It is very strange news to receive. I'm not sure how I feel at the moment." The study of Cheddar Man's Mesolithic remains has also provided crucial insight into when and how farming came to the British Isles, as The Independent goes on to explain. On that note, an archaeology lecturer at Bristol University said, (via the Independent) "It is likely he was part of an extended group of families of 30 or so people. They lived too late to see a woolly mammoth, and too soon to see the earliest farming."