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Ancient bone could reveal how Neanderthals cared for a child with Down syndrome

·1 min

A fossilized ear bone found in a Spanish cave has revealed a Neanderthal child with Down syndrome who lived until the age of 6. The discovery challenges the perception of Neanderthals as brutish cavemen. The child had severe hearing loss, balance issues, and episodes of vertigo, requiring continuous care. The fossil was excavated in 1989, but its identification as a Neanderthal was recent. Neanderthals occupied the site 146,000 to 273,000 years ago. The child’s survival beyond early childhood was unexpected given the demands of Stone Age life. Down syndrome is now associated with longer lifespans.