Neanderthals no strangers to good parenting

Archaeologists at the University of York are challenging the traditional view that Neanderthal childhood was difficult, short and dangerous.

Neandarthal statue at the Neandarthal Museum Credit: Press Association

Researchers from PALAEO (Centre for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins) and the Department of Archaeology at York offer a new view which suggests Neanderthal children had strong connections in their social group, used play to develop skills and played a significant role in their society.

Archaeologists also studied cultural and social evidence to explore the experience of Neanderthal children.

They found that Neanderthal childhood experience was subtly different from that of their modern human counterparts in that it had a greater focus on social relationships within their group.

The study of child burials, meanwhile, reveals that the young may have been given particular attention when they died, with generally more elaborate graves than older individuals.