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Compassion helped Neanderthals to survive: Study

IANS  |  London 

Neanderthals could survive for almost 300,000 years because they were compassionate and genuinely cared for their peers, finds a research that challenges popular notions that they were brutish compared to modern humans.

The study showed that the kind of care exhibited by Neanderthals was uncalculated and highly effective.

It should be seen as a "compassionate and knowledgeable response to and illness".

While, it is well known that Neanderthals sometimes provided care for the injured, the study suggests that they were genuinely caring of their peers, regardless of the level of or injury, rather than helping others out of self-interest.

"Our findings suggest Neanderthals didn't think in terms of whether others might repay their efforts, they just responded to their feelings about seeing their loved ones suffering," said Penny Spikins, at the in England.

The remains analysed in the study, published in the journal World Archaeology, showed that most had that needed monitoring, massage, management and good hygiene provided out of genuine feelings for others rather than self-interest.

Analysis of a male aged around 25-40 years at time of death revealed a catalogue of poor heath, including a of the spine and shoulders.

His condition would have sapped his strength over the final 12 months of life and severely restricted his ability to contribute to the group.

Yet, he remained part of the group as his articulated remains were subsequently carefully buried, the researchers said.

"We argue that the social significance of the broader pattern of has been overlooked and interpretations of a limited or calculated response to have been influenced by preconceptions of Neanderthals as being 'different' and even brutish," Spikins said.

"The very similarity of to that of later periods has important implications. We argue that organised, knowledgeable and caring healthcare is not unique to our species but rather has a long evolutionary history," Spikins added.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 14 2018. 16:50 IST