Neanderthal Study:

Oh, Grow Up!

* Adults sometimes lament that kids today want to grow up too fast. Well, Neanderthal kids actually did grow up fast, becoming adults around age 15.

That's the finding of a study published in the journal Nature.

Neanderthals were cave-dwelling people who lived in what we know as Europe and western Asia. They overlapped with early modern humans for several thousand years, then disappeared about 30,000 years ago.

Some people believe Neanderthals were stupid. But scientists say they had brains as large as ours.

Neanderthals wore clothes, used fire and hunted small animals. They carved stone tools and made wooden spears. Their life was harsh, though, and few lived past 40, which may explain why adulthood started early.

The study, by scientists in France, supports the view that Neanderthals were a separate species from modern humans. Scientists studied the teeth of 55 Neanderthals, noting growth lines (like rings on a tree) and comparing them with other human teeth. The Neanderthals' teeth generally grew 15 percent faster, indicating they became adults quicker, the study says.

Other scientists, noting that growth differs widely even among today's kids and teens, said more study is needed.

A diorama depicts a scene during the glacial period 50,000 years ago.