Neanderthals: New Findings & Theories

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Recent discoveries of ancient stoneware in western Iran reveal that Neanderthals had advanced into western Iran during Palaeolithic era, says an Iranian archaeologist.

Head of an Iranian archaeologist team involved in discovering and preserving the ancient layers of Ashkoft region of Kermanshah province, Elham Qasidian, said the main achievement of the team has been the discovery of some stone flints known as the Mousterian of the Zagros in Ashkoft Cave.

The new discoveries reveal that Neanderthals had advanced into Eslamabad Plain in western Iran during Palaeolithic era, Qasidian was quoted as saying in a Farsi report by Tasnim News Agency.

According to Qasidian, the archaeological project in Ashkoft region is part of a long-term plan to discover and reconstruct the historical lifestyle in one of the most key regions of Iran Plain. The project is supported by the Iranian government as wells as Cambridge University.

Read more at https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blog...thal-camp-discovered.html#3r7x0yiucYhVjpbB.99
 
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Neanderthals' lack of drawing ability may relate to hunting techniques
Spear-throwing gave Homo sapiens better eye-hand coordination, smarter brains

Date:
February 9, 2018
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
Visual imagery used in drawing regulates arm movements in manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc of a spear.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180209100727.htm
 

Kingsize Wombat

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...and in direct contradiction to the post above - the Nanderthals could paint, and maybe earlier than Homo Sapiens:

Neanderthal cave paintings discovered in Spain put Neanderthals in new light

THE world’s oldest known cave paintings were made by Neanderthals, not modern humans, suggesting our extinct cousins were far from being uncultured brutes.

A high-tech analysis of cave art at three Spanish sites, published Thursday, dates the paintings to at least 64,800 years ago, or 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe from Africa.

That makes the cave art much older than previously thought and provides the strongest evidence yet that Neanderthals had the cognitive capacity to understand symbolic representation, a central pillar of human culture.

“What we’ve got here is a smoking gun that really overturns the notion that Neanderthals were knuckle-dragging cavemen,” said Alistair Pike, professor of archaeological sciences at England’s University of Southampton, who co-led the study.

A second related study published in Science Advances found that dyed and decorated marine shells from a different Spanish cave also dated back to pre- human times.

Taken together, the researchers said their work suggested that Neanderthals were “cognitively indistinguishable” from early modern humans.


http://www.news.com.au/technology/s...t/news-story/e2e87bc7026cbaafaf87971f1838584f
 
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blessmycottonsocks

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https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/...rticle&region=Footer&contentCollection=Matter

Neanderthals were making art long before modern man. This is one of many reasons to discount supposed surviving neanderthals as the almasty of Russia and former Soviet Central Asia. These are more likley to be an early offshoot of Homo erectus or Homo habilis.
I already downloaded an image of the artwork from The Guardian when it was first reported a couple of weeks ago.
Just goes to show that Neanderthals were absolutely human and not some barbaric separate species as sometimes claimed.
 

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Neanderthals' prominently protruding facial features represent one of the key characteristics cited in treating them as a distinct sub-species. The evolutionary advantages selecting for such facial structure have long been a subject of debate. This study provides support for the idea the functional benefit(s) had more to do with breathing than biting force.

Neanderthals' Big Noses Get an Airy Explanation
In the human family tree, Neanderthals are our closest extinct relatives, and they looked a lot like modern humans. But one defining difference was a distinctive skull shape, with the middle part of their faces pushed forward dramatically — far more so than in their human cousins.

Scientists have argued about what might have shaped Neanderthal skulls, with some suggesting that this adaptation meant greater biting power, and others proposing that it could have been due to an enhanced airway.

Now, thanks to digital 3D modeling, a new study has answers. And they point to the "enhanced airway" hypothesis. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/62210-neanderthal-big-noses.html
 
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A Neanderthal Odyssey.

Neandertals, Stone Age people may have voyaged the Mediterranean
By Andrew LawlerApr. 24, 2018 , 4:35 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Odysseus, who voyaged across the wine-dark seas of the Mediterranean in Homer’s epic, may have had some astonishingly ancient forerunners. A decade ago, when excavators claimed to have found stone tools on the Greek island of Crete dating back at least 130,000 years, other archaeologists were stunned—and skeptical. But since then, at that site and others, researchers have quietly built up a convincing case for Stone Age seafarers—and for the even more remarkable possibility that they were Neandertals, the extinct cousins of modern humans. ...

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018...ly_2018-04-24&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=1991622
 
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Is this just hindsight doe?

Ancient deer skeleton may reveal how Neanderthals hunted prey
By Lizzie WadeJun. 25, 2018 , 11:30 AM

The fallow deer was about 6 years old when it died about 120,000 years ago on a lake shore in Germany. Its skeleton, recovered by archaeologists and belonging to the extinct species Dama dama geiselana (a different member of which is pictured above), shows an 11-millimeter, circular wound at the top of its pelvis, right next to its spine. But the hole (pictured below) doesn’t look like it came from a fight with another male or the tooth of a carnivore. No, this particular injury could only have been made by a human tool during a hunt, scientists say. And the only human species in Germany so long ago was the Neanderthal.

Archaeologists have discovered ancient Neanderthal spears in both the United Kingdom and Germany, but they weren’t sure how these hunters actually used them. Did they throw them at their prey from long distances? Or did they chase down the animals and stab them at close range? Now, scientists have recreated the 1.8-meter-long spears used by Neanderthals in Germany 300,000 years ago and attacked modern deer bones with them. They found they couldn’t make the kind of injury found on the 120,000-year-old skeleton by throwing the spears. Rather, they had to thrust the weapon upward at the animal’s hip while standing close to it, the researchers report today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. This suggests Neanderthals hunted at close range.

When present-day foragers hunt wild game like this, they usually work together to organize an ambush. So, Neanderthals may have cooperated to take down their prey, too, adding to the list of complex social behaviors our extinct cousins were capable of.

doi:10.1126/science.aau5790

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018...ly_2018-06-25&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2137055
 

Kingsize Wombat

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Is this just hindsight doe?

So, Neanderthals may have cooperated to take down their prey, too, adding to the list of complex social behaviors our extinct cousins were capable of.
Sounds more like Captain Obvious to me.

We know Neanderthals did cave paintings - but we doubted their ability to engage in complex social behavior?
 
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Sounds more like Captain Obvious to me.

We know Neanderthals did cave paintings - but we doubted their ability to engage in complex social behavior?
Yeah but being obvious is one thing, actually finding evidence is another and helps build careers. Only a few decades ago it was believed that Neanderthal were as brutal and primitive as Norfolk or Kerry people.
 

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Here's another example of finally establishing proof of something long suspected about the Neanderthals - an ability to create fire on their own (as opposed to simply maintaining whatever naturally-generated flame(s) they happened to encounter) ...

Neanderthals could start their own fires, new research proves
Neanderthals weren't dependent on lightning strikes and natural wildfires for their flames, new research suggests. The early human relatives were able to start their own fires.

When researchers found microscopic wear on flint hand-axes collected at Neanderthal archaeological sites, they recognized the signature of flint striking found around the hearths of early human settlements.

"I recognized this type of wear from my earlier experimental work," archaeologist Andrew Sorensen, professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in a news release. "These are the traces you get if you try to generate sparks by striking a piece of flint against a piece of pyrite."

The hand-axes, however, were much older than the fire-making tools Sorensen had previously analyzed.

In the lab, researchers used advanced imaging to detail the unique microscopic signatures. The images revealed tiny C-shaped indentations, as well as parallel scratches, or striations -- all signatures of the type of rock-striking used to make sparks.

Sorensen and his colleagues found the same microscopic wear on dozens of hand-axes dated to 50,000 years ago, suggesting the practice of fire-starting was widespread among Neanderthals.

"Being able to make their own fire gives the Neanderthals much more flexibility in their lives," Sorensen said. "It's a skill we suspected, but didn't know for sure they possessed."

The findings, detailed this week in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests Neanderthals were capable of technological insights similar to those of early humans.
SOURCE: https://www.upi.com/Science_News/20.../?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=8
 

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A Neanderthal Odyssey.

Neandertals, Stone Age people may have voyaged the Mediterranean
By Andrew LawlerApr. 24, 2018 , 4:35 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Odysseus, who voyaged across the wine-dark seas of the Mediterranean in Homer’s epic, may have had some astonishingly ancient forerunners. A decade ago, when excavators claimed to have found stone tools on the Greek island of Crete dating back at least 130,000 years, other archaeologists were stunned—and skeptical. But since then, at that site and others, researchers have quietly built up a convincing case for Stone Age seafarers—and for the even more remarkable possibility that they were Neandertals, the extinct cousins of modern humans. ...

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018...ly_2018-04-24&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=1991622
From the link:

<<Modern humans braved treacherous waters to reach Australia by 65,000 years ago. But in both cases, some archaeologists say early seafarers might have embarked by accident, perhaps swept out to sea by tsunamis.>>

Translates as, "Some archaeologists had such a strong preconception of early humans as stupid, that, rather than accept the evidence to the contrary they came up with stupid explanations for the facts." This is prejudice or preconception writ large.

One or more groups comprising sufficient people to form a viable colony, but without access to boat were swept out to sea by an incoming tsunami, and stayed together and survived until they landed on a distant island where they were able to build a community.

Either that or, just maybe, they had boats.
 

oldrover

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From the link:

<<Modern humans braved treacherous waters to reach Australia by 65,000 years ago. But in both cases, some archaeologists say early seafarers might have embarked by accident, perhaps swept out to sea by tsunamis.>>

Translates as, "Some archaeologists had such a strong preconception of early humans as stupid, that, rather than accept the evidence to the contrary they came up with stupid explanations for the facts." This is prejudice or preconception writ large.

One or more groups comprising sufficient people to form a viable colony, but without access to boat were swept out to sea by an incoming tsunami, and stayed together and survived until they landed on a distant island where they were able to build a community.

Either that or, just maybe, they had boats.
Yes, but academia tends to be conservative. Which is obviously good in some instances but in others it can seem a bit weird. And accidental rafting has happened with other species which have gone on to form viable populations, an example would be roughly 40% of the terrestrial mammal species of Australia which are Eutherians. Obviously though in that case they're very small, have large numbers of young, and are very fast breeding.
 

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Yes, but academia tends to be conservative. Which is obviously good in some instances but in others it can seem a bit weird. And accidental rafting has happened with other species which have gone on to form viable populations, an example would be roughly 40% of the terrestrial mammal species of Australia which are Eutherians. Obviously though in that case they're very small, have large numbers of young, and are very fast breeding.
Yes, small mammals and the like can be carried on a fallen tree or a loose raft of driftwood and debris. It seems less likely with humans just because of the scale. Dug put boats with outriggers, or manmade rafts are surprisingly capable vessels. If you can find and extract the right sized piece of flint, shape it, and attach it to a shaft, then work with others to kill large animals for food, you can probably tie a few logs together. As they used to say at the time, "It's not raft science."
 

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Yes, small mammals and the like can be carried on a fallen tree or a loose raft of driftwood and debris. It seems less likely with humans just because of the scale. Dug put boats with outriggers, or manmade rafts are surprisingly capable vessels. If you can find and extract the right sized piece of flint, shape it, and attach it to a shaft, then work with others to kill large animals for food, you can probably tie a few logs together. As they used to say at the time, "It's not raft science."
I agree, I'd even ask were we the first humans to make such vessels. Although when doing my own research I tend to be very conservative.
 

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There is a difference in having boats and being able to cross the ocean. Are we perhaps talking about small coastal boats being carried off during tsunamis etc?
 

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There is a difference in having boats and being able to cross the ocean. Are we perhaps talking about small coastal boats being carried off during tsunamis etc?
I know not all tsunamis are as devastating as the one on Boxing Day 2004, but I think the idea of "carried off during a tsunami" just doesn't sound likely. It may be possible, but I think it unlikely.

Mankind is capable of amazing journeys in small vessels. A small proa can sail long distances between islands. An outrigger canoe is stable and has a lot of carrying capacity.. A dugout canoe is unsinkable. Thor Heyerdahl demonstrated what could be achieved with a balsa raft (Kon Tiki), and with various boats that were made of bundles of reeds tied together, (Ra I and Ra II and others) Both the raft and the reed boat were unsinkable until they became waterlogged through extended use. Rafts have even been made from inflated animal skins. (More recently, people have canoed the length of the Grand Canyon, and crossed the North Sea in small dinghies.)

We often forget how little we really know about early humans. There were populations of them scattered widely across large parts of the globe. Of the many thousands who lived, we only have access to a few more or less complete skeletons, some jaw bones and skulls, some teeth and a few odd bits of skeleton, and a couple of freak finds such as Otzi the Iceman and Pete Marsh (Lindow Man).

We judge the technological achievements of early homo sapiens from the flint and bone tools that they left, but not from the leather, timber, plant fibre and fabric items that rotted away. We judge their architectural achievements from megaliths, banks and ditches, causeways, hut circles and post holes but we can only speculate about how they joined the timbers, and what materials they used for the walls and roofs. We know that Neanderthals sometimes lived in caves, but we cannot know if they used skin tents or made woven shelters.

We judge their artistic achievements by paintings that have survived in the back of caves, but we do not know whether they carved patterns in the timbers of their homes, or painted designs on hide or daub walls. We may find a few scattered amber or shell beads, but we can never know whether early humans braided their hair or painted their faces.

We speculate wildly about their rituals by overlaying our own ideas of churches and cathedrals and religious processions onto the remaining parts of neolithic structures. We draw comparisons with the evidence of modern anthropology, but always from an unspoken assumption of our own superiority. I imagine a prehistorian spending all week writing fascinating speculation about "primitive rituals" at a henge or a stone circle, before unwinding on a Saturday afternoon at a ball game, sitting in a stadium with thousands of others and chanting ritual insults at the opposing fans.

Always, we assume that because we are technologically and culturally sophisticated, our way is the best way, and sometimes the only way. Any society that failed to invent essentials like gun powder, reality TV and single use plastics is dismissed as primitive — although sometimes patronised as "noble savages" who are "in tune with the landscape" when all they are doing really is getting on with their lives.

If you can make an axe, you can cut down a tree. If you can cut down a tree, you can make logs. If you can twist plant fibres, you can make cord. If you can weave willow or bamboo you can make mats and sails. If you can do all these things, you can make a raft. If you can make a raft, you can make a bigger raft.

When I were a lad, I was told that man was the only intelligent species. This sounded wrong to me at the time. We are called "Homo Sapiens" (Man the wise) only because we gave this name to ourselves.

Since then, we have learned a lot about the intelligence of corvids, cetaceans, primates, and even the octopus. Numerous species of mammal, bird and fish have been observed using tools, some making tools, and sometimes even using tools to make tools. I'm pretty sure that primitive people, whether Neanderthal or not, were a lot more resourceful than we give them credit for. Unfortunately, we can never know the full extent of their achievements because the evidence simply hasn't survived. However, given a choice between "swept out to sea by a tsunami and somehow surviving in sufficient numbers to form a viable colony, despite a long sea crossing with no provisions or fresh water" and "building rafts or similar vessels and migrating" I go for the latter.
 

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At the same time though, what would have been the factor that made people decide to take an over the horizon sea journey without knowing if there was anything there? Obviously people have done this, but there's another possibility that they were either swept out or micalculated their course while on coatal journeys.
 

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At the same time though, what would have been the factor that made people decide to take an over the horizon sea journey without knowing if there was anything there? Obviously people have done this, but there's another possibility that they were either swept out or micalculated their course while on coatal journeys.
First concern with these ideas is fresh water supplies. You can survive a few days without food, or even catch fish if you have some basic equipment, but if you set off by accident without adequate drinking water, you soon die.

Second concern is the sheer numbers required for a viable and sustainable population when you make landfall. How many people would be washed out to sea together and remain together and make landfall reasonably close to each other? What would the proportions of males and females? If it was one or more coastal boats that blew off course, then from every other culture I can think of before the days of cruise liners, everyone, or almost everyone, on board a boat on a normal working voyage would be male.

However, the simplest explanation for a viable starter population, including a good proportion of females, all surviving the crossing and landing close enough to each other to regroup, is that it was a deliberate migration.
 

EnolaGaia

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However the migration occurred, it almost surely wasn't a single 'one and done' event. IMHO the most likely interpretation is that news of land beyond the horizon arrived with fishermen or other sea voyagers, with one or more expeditions occurring thereafter.
 

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First concern with these ideas is fresh water supplies. You can survive a few days without food, or even catch fish if you have some basic equipment, but if you set off by accident without adequate drinking water, you soon die.

Second concern is the sheer numbers required for a viable and sustainable population when you make landfall. How many people would be washed out to sea together and remain together and make landfall reasonably close to each other? What would the proportions of males and females? If it was one or more coastal boats that blew off course, then from every other culture I can think of before the days of cruise liners, everyone, or almost everyone, on board a boat on a normal working voyage would be male.

However, the simplest explanation for a viable starter population, including a good proportion of females, all surviving the crossing and landing close enough to each other to regroup, is that it was a deliberate migration.
Two valid points, yet we know it has happened with other species who would have been far less prepared, I'm thinking particularly of New World monkeys. And you may well know far more about this than I, but I'm not clear what route people took in early East Asian migrations, did they go overland, or hop along the coast? If the latter then the gender mix might have been more even. I have no idea.

However the migration occurred, it almost surely wasn't a single 'one and done' event. IMHO the most likely interpretation is that news of land beyond the horizon arrived with fishermen or other sea voyagers, with one or more expeditions occurring thereafter.
I think that definitely is likely to be part of it.
 

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A quick and unscientific scan though history shows that there were very few "one and done" migrations. Such a thing would require a huge amount of social cohesion and a high degree of coordination, and would be a massive logistical exercise.

Even something as short as the Norman invasion of England in 1066 was a huge undertaking, with food and water having to be carried into the camp and waste removed until the weather was just right for a crossing that was short enough that several people since have swum it.

Of course, they had horses and armour to worry about, but the point is that any movement of large numbers of people by sea, with equipment, food and water, is a big job — and probably beyond the organisational and social capabilities of prehistoric man.

The same quick and unscientific scan through history shows that when mass migrations have occurred, they have been piecemeal, starting with a few "early adopters" (pioneers) and then increasing in size and frequency. They typically involve young males first, followed by older men and their wives and families in later waves. The first Vikings to land in Britain were raiders in single ships or small flotillas, later there were whole organised armies, and then there were those who came to trade, to farm and eventually to intermarry.

The motives for migration break down loosely into:
1) Fear of a more powerful enemy: a retreat to a distant place of safety.
2) Escaping from poverty, famine, or environmental changes.
3) Greed — or at least the desire to find prosperity (rather than the mere absence of poverty).
4) I suspect this is rare, except in the first wave of pioneers: the desire to to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

We can probably never know, but I suspect that for early man, (1) and (2) were the most significant motives.
 
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A handy crowd.

Despite their brutish reputation, Neanderthals used their hands more like tailors than construction workers, new research suggests.

To make the find, researchers looked at entheses, scars on a bone where muscle attaches that can give a sense of how someone used their muscles over their lifetime. The team built on a previous study that took 3D scans of the hands of bricklayers, butchers, tailors, and painters. The brute-force laborers tended to have more prominent entheses on the thumb and pinky, whereas those with more fine-movement jobs tended to have larger entheses on the thumb and index finger.

The scientists then performed similar scans on the hand bones of 12 ancient individuals: six Neanderthals and six modern humans who lived more than 40,000 years ago.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2018-09-26&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2393578
 

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Interesting article. However, the "brutish reputation", which appears to be a common perception, is based on no evidence at all. Neanderthals were intelligent mammals and there is no reason to believe that they were "brutish" just because they were less "sophisticated" than we like to think we are – based on our own rather selective view of ourselves. Neanderthals didn't invent the bomb or the guillotine, for example.

Delicate hand movements would fit well with un-brutish tasks such as gathering berries, nuts and fruit.
 

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Delicate hand movements would fit well with un-brutish tasks such as gathering berries, nuts and fruit.
And some quite extraordinary flint tool making, the apparently simplicity of which completely obscures the skill and intelligence required to make them.
 

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There's reason to believe Neanderthals collaborated on health care, too.

Neanderthal healthcare practices crucial to survival
Healthcare practices in this period of human evolution have often been studied alongside complex cultural behaviour, mostly based around research into rituals and symbols associated with death. This new study, however, sets out, for the first time, that healthcare could have had a more strategic role in Neanderthal survival.

Previous research at the University of York has already suggested that compassion and caring for the injured and dying could have been a factor in the development of healthcare practices, but further investigation has now shown that there was evolutionary drivers behind it too.

Researchers investigated the skeletal remains of more than 30 individuals where minor and serious injuries were evident, but did not lead to loss of life. The samples displayed several episodes of injury and recovery, suggesting that Neanderthals must have had a well-developed system of care in order to survive.

Dr Penny Spikins, from the University of York's Department of Archaeology, said: "Neanderthals faced multiple threats to their lives, particularly from large and dangerous animals, but in popular culture Neanderthals have such a brutish and strong image that we haven't really thought too deeply about their vulnerabilities before now.

"We have evidence of healthcare dating back 1.6 million years ago, but we think it probably goes further back than this. We wanted to investigate whether healthcare in Neanderthals was more than a cultural practice; was it something they just did or was it more fundamental to their strategies for survival?

"The high level of injury and recovery from serious conditions, such as a broken leg, suggests that others must have collaborated in their care and helped not only to ease pain, but to fight for their survival in such a way that they could regain health and actively participate in the group again."

It is generally accepted that more than 80% of the skeletal remains known to archaeologists display several injuries, some of which may have required simple remedies, such as food and rest, and others that would have required serious levels of care due to a high risk to life. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/uoy-nhp100418.php
 
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