October 12, 2010

Evidence: Atapuerca Cave Dwellers Took Care Of Elderly

New evidence released Monday suggests cave dwellers who lived in northern Spain around 500,000 years ago actually took care of their elderly.

The University of Madrid paleontologists discovered the partial male skeleton from a European species ancestral to the Neanderthals who suffered from a stoop and possibly needed a stick to remain upright.

"This individual would be probably impaired for hunting, among other activities. His survival during a considerable period with these impairments allows us to hypothesize that the nomadic group of which this individual was part would provide special care to aged individuals," the statement said.

The research suggests that the cave dweller died when he was over 45. 

He was discovered at Atapuerca in northern Spain's Burgos province, which is home to several caves that contain evidence of prehistoric human occupation.

According to AFP, the study has been accepted for publication in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

An earlier study that was carried out at the same site in 2009 showed the cave dwellers who lived there were cannibals who valued the flesh of children and adolescents.


Image Caption: Excavations at the site of Gran Dolina, in Atapuerca (Spain), during 2008. Credit: Mario Modesto Mata/Wikipedia


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