March 31, 2009

Deformed skull of prehistoric child suggests that early humans cared for disabled children.
  • Wouldn't it have a lot more significance if it were an adult skull? The fact that it's a child's skull suggests they didn't care about/for it. Seems like they tried until it was apparent that the kid wouldn't grow out of it.
  • It's so hard to work out what life was really like for that child and its carers (and their surrounding community), if there were any. I'd like to know what eventually caused the child's death before deciding whether he/she was being looked after. Logically I think Mr K is probably right. On the other hand, there's lots of examples of prehistoric hominid/hominin remains where the living person would have needed support to live -- one of the more infamous being the Shanidar site (which Auel used in Clan of the Cave Bear). The most famous remains from that site had multiple deformities including a badly broken eye socket and a crippled right arm and hand. He was also very old and would have required care and feeding. Shanidar is a newer site, though, tens of thousands of years. Times may well have changed in a few hundred thousand years, I guess.
  • Well, the article does address it: Whatever the cause, the early closure of the lamdoid would have put a lot of pressure on the growing brain. This condition has been linked to mental retardation and motor problems in modern-day children. With such disabilities, the Cranium 14 child would have been unable to reach the age of 5-8 without the care of its peers. Sounds like the child died of natural causes, even if it's not stated outright.
  • That sounds to me like they're saying people didn't care for it - the article contradicts itself.
  • I thought they only have the skull of the body. The article doesn't directly say that, but they keep talking about how they found a skull, not a body. They named it Cranium 14, not Skeleton 14. I don't think they have a body. They can rule out some head trauma, but otherwise I don't think they have a way to determine cause of death. Even with a skeleton, I don't know if they'd be able to say cause of death unless it was violent enough to brake bones.
  • Well, they can look for evidence of past disease and malnutrition in bones and teeth. Poor diet affects bone growth so it shows up in the skeleton. Don't know about how those things affect cranial bones, though. Also, I just reread your comment, fraise, and I was misinterpreting it yesterday. Excuse my half-dead brain. I think someone needs to finally invent that time machine. If we can invent a wind-powered machine that can move faster than the wind, why can't we travel through time?
  • No wind-powered machine can travel faster than the wind. If it could you could go back in time, kill my own grandfather and then delete that thread before it started. Thus causing a "pair o' ducks", or something.
  • Not "pair o'ducks", "pair o'docks". Not to be confused with a pair of dice, which was much nicer until it got infested.
  • I invented a time-powered time machine that travels faster than time. Unfortunately that keeps it out of my reach, temporally.
  • I invented a thyme-powered machine. It smells nicer and you don't have to try to figure out what is going on with "LOST" this season.
  • Ha! I have a thyme machine that travels faster than basil. It's got a lot of pizza-z, that machine.
  • Would a banana-powered machine travel faster than the fruit flies?
  • Wouldn't it have a lot more significance if it were an adult skull? Stanford anthropologist David DeGusta's makes the same point here.
  • *High fives Stanford anthropologist David DeGusta*