Neanderthals and their precursor, an early human species called Homo heidelbergensis, were often thought of as violent and uncaring, rejecting newborns with severe deformities.
A recent discovery, however, may change the picture: they might have cared for their disabled children.
... a new study shows that a 530,000-year-old fossil skull belonged to a child who lived to around the age of ten despite being born with a rare birth defect known as craniosynostosis, in which the skull segments close too early, interfering with brain development. [...]
Increased pressure on the brain due to the deformity might have led to learning difficulties and health problems such as mental retardation.
"All children need care," noted study team leader Ana Gracia of the Centro UCM-ISCIII de Evolución y Comportamientos Humanos in Madrid. But this child would likely have required "special need care" to have lived as long as it did, she said.