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Neanderthals More like Modern Humans

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Human children take years to mature into adults. In contrast to other mammals, human children can't walk, or even eat and drink on their own for the first months of their lives. This seeming deficiency—a slow growth rate—actually allows developing human brains time to achieve a higher level of mental capacity.

It was long thought that Neanderthal children grew up in a short time, more like apes than human children.

A close examination of Neanderthal molars now casts doubt on that theory. Teeth grow daily growth lines, akin to tree rings, and scientists were able to measure and compare these in Neanderthal molars to those in human teeth.

Their findings, published in a recent issue of the journal Nature, shows Neanderthal children matured at a similar rate to human children. If so, Neanderthal adults may have been closer in mental capacity to modern humans.

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