Monday, October 11, 2010

My bright idea: Neanderthals could show compassion

Dr Penny Spikins is a young archaeologist at the University of York who focuses her research on social and cognitive evolution and prehistoric social dynamics, writing across a diverse range of subjects including the role of prestigious leaders and the occurrence of autism in past societies.In her new book, The Prehistory of Compassion, written with researchers Holly Rutherford and Andy Needham, she rejects the popular portrayal of Neanderthals as simple, unfeeling brutes and suggests that our closest ancient relatives may well have demonstrated a level of compassion that would put many modern humans to shame, caring for the infirm and the vulnerable for years at a time in organised groups.

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