Now We Know How Long Neanderthals Breastfed
It was a probably a relatively short span of 14 months, study says
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2013 1:07 PM CDT
This picture provided by the American Museum of Natural History shows a mural depicting Neanderthal life.   (AP Photo/American Museum of Natural History)

(Newser) – The American Academy of Pediatrics would have smiled on at least one aspect of Neanderthal child-rearing: Chemical analysis of a fossilized tooth suggests that Neanderthal moms breastfed exclusively for seven months, then breastfed while supplementing with food for another seven, reports Australia's ABC Science. After that, the little knuckledragger was on solid food for good. Those parameters are pretty much what the AAP recommends, notes the New York Times, though it's a much shorter span than typically happens in the real world (figure 2.5 years), as well as among chimps (5.3 years).

That relatively short weaning period could tell much about Neanderthal life, the researchers suggest in their paper at Nature. It could mean, for instance, that women had children at a fast clip. And if that's the case, they would have needed help from other adults tending to large broods, an insight that would shed light on their social structures. On the other hand, it was just one tooth, and one of the researchers says it would be "reckless" to read too much into it without first studying other Neanderthal samples.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
May 24, 2013 1:57 PM CDT
I just want to know if their women had bodacious ta-tas!!!
May 24, 2013 1:55 PM CDT
FUX News interviews Neanderthals... amazing family life disclosed. Next up, the world comes to an end in one hour... updates live on FUX News at eleven.
May 24, 2013 9:50 AM CDT
Phewww.... thank GOD we finally know! Of all the questions that keep me up at night - why we're here, if there's really a God, what happens when we die - it is this one, how long Neanderthals breastfed that REALLY haunted me... >.<