Fossil Bone of Neanderthal Child with Down Syndrome Discovered

A recent study, published in Science Advanceshas brought to light very important issues regarding thesocial altruism and the relationship with the disability in the distant past. A research group Spanishmade up of scholars from the University of Alcala and of Valenciaand study centers of Madrid And Burgosdiscovered in the cave of Black Cave the fossil remains of a Neanderthal child affected by down syndromenicknamed Tina (but we don’t know if it was male or female) and lived in a period between the 273,000 hey 146,000 years ago. Tina managed to reach the 6 years oldwhich suggests that his community cared for this individual.

It is actually a fragment of a temporal bone (belonging to the skull), found following a reorganisation of materials from the excavations of the Black Cavea cave frequented in prehistoric times near Valenciain eastern Spain. The temporal bone, renamed by scholars with the acronym CN-46700was subjected to computed tomographyan analysis technique non-invasive which allows for the creation of extremely precise 3D models of the samples to be analyzed, without compromising their integrity.

Being able to study the model of the fragment without damaging it, the scientists realized that it was a temporal bone of Neanderthal instead of Homo sapiens. Although Neanderthals were our closest relatives, there are in fact some anatomical differences rather marked which allow for distinguish between one species and another. The real importance of the discovery, however, does not lie in the fact that the bone belongs to a Neanderthal. Excavations at Cova Negra, in fact, have demonstrated for years the presence of these ancient hominids in the area. Scientists realized that the temporal bone belonged to an individual of about 6 years oldand which featured a series of congenital malformations compatible with those caused by the down syndrome. As of today, it would therefore be a question of oldest attestation of this syndrome in an individual belonging to the genus Man.

In the past, traces of the presence of Down syndrome in individuals who lived during recent prehistory are attested in at least five casesdating back to between the 3.629 and 400 BC In all known cases, however, the child is died within the first 16 months of lifeThe discovery of Cova Negra is not only very important because of its extreme antiquity, but also because a child with Down syndrome is survivor up to 6 years of age in a company of more than 200,000 years ago.

This has some pretty significant implications for the our perception of Neanderthal society. As far as the presence of a feeling of altruism and interest towards their peers was attested among Neanderthals, this was demonstrable only among adult individuals. Who could, in some way, contribute the needs of the human group were therefore met curated And maintained in life.

What the Spanish research team highlighted shows that, at least in this case, a child most likely not self-sufficient (the malformations present probably made him deaf) managed to survive for a few years thanks to care of a social group that acted in a continuous. Considering that until the 1940s of the last century L’average life expectancy for an individual with Down syndrome it was just 12 years oldthat of Cova Negra is an extraordinary discovery, which tells us about humanity And affection among ours closest relatives lived 200,000 years ago.