Conny Waters – – Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, have documented the first known instance of Down syndrome in Neandertals.

 Groundbreaking Study: First Known Case Of Down Syndrome In Neanderthals - Investigated

An international team including Binghamton anthropologist Rolf Quam documented the first case of Down syndrome in Neandertals by studying the fossil of a child found in a cave in Spain. Image Credit: Science Advances.

This groundbreaking study provides evidence that Neandertals possessed the capacity to offer altruistic care and support to vulnerable individuals within their social structure.

The findings contribute significantly to our understanding of Neandertal social behavior and cognitive capabilities, offering valuable insights into the evolution of human compassion and social organization.

The research, led by anthropologists at the University of Alcalá and the University of Valencia in Spain, studied the skeletal remains of a Neandertal child, whom they affectionately named “Tina,” found at Cova Negra, a cave in Valencia, Spain long known for yielding important Neandertal discoveries.

 Groundbreaking Study: First Known Case Of Down Syndrome In Neanderthals - Investigated


The research team created 3D models of the inner ear of the Neandertal child, discovering that she had a congenital pathology associated with Down syndrome.
Image Credit: Science Advances.

“The excavations at Cova Negra have been key to understanding the way of life of the Neandertals along the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula and have allowed us to define the occupations of the settlement: of short temporal duration and with a small number of individuals, alternating with the presence of carnivores,” said University of Valencia Professor of Prehistory Valentín Villaverde.

The researchers made micro-computed tomography scans of a small cranial fragment of the right temporal bone, containing the ear region, to reconstruct a three-dimensional model for measurement and analysis. Tina suffered from a congenital pathology of the

inner ear associated with Down syndrome that produced severe hearing loss and disabling vertigo. This individual survived to at least 6 years of age, but would have required extensive care from other members of their social group.

“This is a fantastic study, combining rigorous archaeological excavations, modern medical imaging techniques and diagnostic criteria to document Down syndrome in a Neandertal individual for the first time. The results have significant implications for our understanding of Neandertal behavior,” said Binghamton University Professor of Anthropology Rolf Quam.

Researchers have known for decades that Neandertals cared for disabled individuals. However, to date, all known cases of social care among Neandertals involved adult individuals, leading some scientists to discount this as truly altruistic behavior and instead to suggest it more likely represented reciprocal exchange of help between equals.

“What was not known until now was any case of an individual who had received help, even if they could not return the favor, which would prove the existence of true altruism among Neandertals. That is precisely what the discovery of ‘Tina’ means,” said Mercedes Conde, professor at the University of Alcalá and lead author of the study.

The study, “The child who lived: Down syndrome among Neandertals?” was published in Science Advances.

Written by Conny Waters – Staff Writer


Source link


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *