Stone Age humans had unexpectedly advanced medical knowledge, new discovery suggests – CNN

Using radiocarbon dating techniques, scientists estimate the body has lain undisturbed for 31, 000 years inside the Liang Tebo cave in eastern Kalimantan province in Borneo, according to research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
But the most striking aspect of the discovery was that the particular young man or woman was missing their lower left leg, along with signs it had been carefully amputated when the person was a pre-teen or early teen before their death from unknown causes between 19 and 21, researchers said.
The otherwise remarkably intact skeleton was found by in 2020 by Australian plus Indonesian archaeologists, who say the amputation reveals considerable surgical skill and is the earliest example in the particular archeological record, shaking up our understanding of sophistication of Rock Age people.
“It’s significant because it considerably pushes back our species’ knowledge about surgery and complex medicine, ” said Maxime Aubert, a professor at Griffith University’s Centre for Social and Cultural Research within Queensland, via email.
The foot and lower leg was deliberately removed with a clean, sloping cut.

“They had to have a profound knowledge of human anatomy, how in order to stop the blood flow, anaesthesia, and antisepsis. All of these only became the particular norm very recently, ” Aubert wrote.
Experts had thought humans lacked the expertise to perform difficult procedures like d├ęgradation until the emergence of agriculture and permanent settlements transformed human society within the last 10, 000 many years.
Hand stencils were found in the cave where the amputated skeleton was discovered.

It was just 100 years ago that surgical amputation became a medical Western norm. Before developments like antibiotics, the study stated, most people would have died at the time associated with amputation.
“Blood loss, shock and subsequent infection were the chief sources of amputation being fatal up until quite relatively recently inside human history, inch said Tim Maloney, researcher at Griffith University plus one of the study’s co-authors.

Community care

The individual had their own lower remaining leg amputated as a child and survived for six to nine years after the surgery, according to the study.
There was no trace of infection in the bones, and new bone growth had formed over the particular amputated area — something that takes considerable time. Plus, while the rest of the skeleton has been adult sized, the amputated bones stopped growing plus retained their child size.
The surgeon or surgeons who performed the operation 31, 000 years back, likely with knives and scalpels made from stone, must have had detailed understanding of body structure and muscular and vascular systems in order to expose plus negotiate the veins, vessels and nerves, and to prevent deadly blood loss and infection, the particular study mentioned.
After the amputation, intensive nursing plus care would have been vital, and the wound might have had to have been regularly cleaned and disinfected.
“I think what’s most amazing is this is real, direct archaeological, tangible evidence for a really high degree of community care, inches said Maloney.
An artist's reconstruction of the earliest known amputee, who lived in an artistic community 31,000 years ago in Borneo.

To live for years along with an amputated leg in mountainous terrain, the person might have needed a lot of ongoing help plus care from their local community.
“That this particular child survived the procedure and it is estimated to have lived for many years afterwards is astounding, ” Charlotte Roberts, professor emeritus inside the Department of Archaeology at the particular University associated with Durham within the UK, said in a commentary published alongside the research . She was not involved in the research.
Roberts agreed with the assessment that the limb was deliberately removed — an accidental injury would certainly not show a clean sloping cut. Nor has been it likely that this foot was reduce off as a punishment given that the individual lived with regard to years following the amputation and was carefully and considerately buried, said Roberts, who trained as nurse prior to becoming an archaeologist.
The Australian team stated it had been possible that these hunter gatherers had knowledge of medicinal plants, such as antiseptics, that would possess grown in the Borneo rainforest.

Exciting region for breakthroughs

The particular remains from the child had been dated within two ways: radiocarbon dating of charcoal remains in the layers of sediment above, at and below the skeleton; and the tooth dated by measuring the radioactive decay associated with uranium isotopes, chemical elements found in the particular tooth enamel.
It’s also the oldest recognized deliberate burial in the particular islands of Southeast Asia, with limestone markers placed on top of the burial, your body placed within a flexed, fetal position and a large ball associated with ocher — a mineral pigment used in Stone Age give art.
A team of Indonesian and Australian archaeologists excavated the skeleton.

The skeletal system was discovered in a region that’s become an exciting locale for paleoanthropology: Liang Tebo, a large limestone cave with human hand stencils upon the walls, located in a remote, mountainous landscape accessible only simply by boat in certain times of the year.
“It is from this area that will humans departed by boat to cross Island South Asia in order to reach the mainland associated with Papua and Australia (the first successful major maritime voyage), ” Aubert mentioned via email. “They were advanced artists, and now we know (they) had advanced medical knowledge. ”
“At Liang Tebo, we encountered this thirty-one, 000 many years old prehistoric amputee less than 1 metre from the particular surface plus we know we still have another 3-4 meters of sediments to dig just before bedrock, inch he added.
The dig inside 2020 was cut short by alarm over the spread associated with Covid-19, and the Australia-based archeologists raced home to avoid border closures that would last a lot more than two years.
“We can’t want in order to go back. Maybe we will find more human beings remains plus perhaps remains of unknown species. inches

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