Skull Hints at Caveman Compassion

Skull suggests ancient humans cared for sick
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2009 1:02 PM CDT
Skull Hints at Caveman Compassion
A reconstructed skull suggests ancient humans showed compassion.   (Shutterstock)

Scientists have pieced together the skull of an ancient human who appears to have been deformed, but survived to at least age 5—suggesting he or she was cared for in spite of the handicap. That’s evidence for the existence of compassion in early humans, a trait other primates don’t show, Wired reports. The discovery points to a branching-off in human evolution up to half a million years ago.

But one anthropologist says the finding may tell us little. While other species may not care for sick adults, they do care for their infirm young, he notes: “I’m not saying their interpretation is unreasonable, but we’re trying to do science, so we have to ask, ‘How would we know that we were wrong?’” (More prehistoric stories.)

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