In The Inheritors Mal is the oldest member of the Neanderthal group. At the beginning of the novel, he is clearly very frail but is able to replace the missing log with a fallen tree because he has a ‘picture’ from long ago. When crossing the log, Mal falls in the freezing water and becomes very ill as a result.
Despite the group’s attempts to keep Mal warm, he eventually asks to be buried in the ‘warm earth’ near the fire in the cave. The old woman says: ‘Oa has taken Mal into her belly’.