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Poor parenting may cause Neanderthals to become extinct

Recent scientific research has provided new evidence about a potential reason for the extinction of Neanderthals around 40,000 years ago, which may relate to differences in child-rearing approaches between Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens.

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The results of the study, conducted by scientists from the University of Tübingen in Germany, are based on an analysis of the enamel of 423 Neanderthal teeth and 444 Upper Paleolithic human teeth.

The researchers noticed horizontal grooves in the enamel, which are signs of stress in early life. These stressors included disease, infection, malnutrition, and injury, reports

Although the total number of such grooves was similar in both species, a significant difference was seen in the age at which these signs of stress appeared.

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In Paleolithic human children, enamel damage was more common between the ages of one and three years, coinciding with the period of weaning from breastfeeding. At the same time, in Neanderthals, similar defects appeared after this period, indicating possible malnutrition at a later age.

This finding suggests that early humans’ childcare strategies may have included longer periods of feeding and perhaps better provision of food after weaning. This approach could help reduce children’s stress levels, increasing their chances of survival.

In contrast, Neanderthals may have experienced earlier cessation of feeding and poor nutrition after weaning, which may have contributed to higher levels of stress in their children and resulting in lower long-term population survival.

These findings add an important chapter to understanding the complex history of relationships and competition between Neanderthals and early humans, highlighting how significant parental care may have been in matters of species survival and adaptation.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.