HE HAS become a byword for an unfeeling brute, but it now seems that Neanderthal Man could simply be deeply misunderstood.
Evidence unveiled yesterday suggests that behind that low-brow, sloping forehead and crudely jutting jaw, lurked a rather sensitive and compassionate soul.
Researchers said the sub-species of modern humans, who lived in Europe and Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago, were actually caring, sharing types who looked after the sick and vulnerable.
The evidence included the remains of a child with a congenital brain abnormality who, far from being abandoned, lived to be five or six years old because of nurturing.
The researchers, who used new techniques such as neuro-imaging, also cited a partially blind caveman with a deformed arm and feet who may have been looked after for 20 years.
Further proof that Neanderthals were committed to the welfare of others was said to lie in their long adolescence – which they could have reached only if older relatives had looked after them.
Dr Penny Spikins, who led the study byYork University’s Archaeology Department, said in the journal Time and Mind: “Compassion is perhaps the most fundamental human emotion. It binds us together. The archaeological record has an important story to tell about the prehistory of compassion.”
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