6. Neanderthal Health Care
An often overlooked factor in the Neanderthal story is their medical skills. These hominids existed for thousands of years, but in small bands where every individual was likely viewed as valuable to the group. Neanderthals could not have survived for as long as they did without developing their own health-care practices.
In 2018, the remains of more than 30 Neanderthals were picked for a special reason. They all survived some kind of physical trouble. Minor to serious injuries, including broken bones, were all there. More importantly, each individual had recovered from different traumas over the course of his or her life. None were fatal (or there would have been no healing).
This was the first solid proof that Neanderthals had an advanced medical system in place. Not just as a cultural thing, either, but as a major survival strategy. Since they cared for patients and focused on survival, researchers believe that the Neanderthal healers included skilled midwives.
5. Strange Stone Message
The Kiik-Koba cave in Crimea is no stranger to Neanderthal discoveries. Decades ago, excited researchers found an adult Neanderthal and baby inside. During 2018, a flint flake from the site revealed 13 surface marks during analysis. The artifact was around 35,000 years old, and the lines were anything but random or accidental.
Instead, a Neanderthal with acute hand-eye coordination used several pointed stone tools to create the zigzags. This kind of endeavor also demanded great mental focus. The small flint was not made from local stone, raising the possibility that it was brought from another location—perhaps bearing a message.
Scientists agreed that the markings were too labor-intensive to be doodles from a bored Neanderthal. They also discounted the chance that the marks indicated ownership of the tool because other flint flakes were found without any carvings. It could have been numerical information. But honestly, nobody knows what was communicated and whether the small size meant the intended audience was not big, either.