Broken and healed femur bone
A broken and healed femur.

The famous anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked what she considered to be the first sign of humanity. While the questioner expected an answer like cave paintings, religious icons, etc. Mead explained that the first sign was a thousands of years old fractured and healed femur, the long bone in the leg. In the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. A broken femur that has healed is evidence that another person has carried the person to safety and has tended to them through recovery. A healed femur indicates that someone has helped a fellow human, rather than abandoning them to save their own life, that is when we developed humanity.

find out more about this parable here.

This project provides free coloring pages around the theme of what makes us human – caring for and helping others!

FREE Coloring/Colouring pages to download and use. 35+ images produced by 20 artists. Here is a selection and you can see them all on the images page.

Image of shaman, plants with healing properties and masks
A child with a scraped knee.
Four people sitting and playing musical instruments.
A grandfather talking to his grandchild on shetland
A village scene with people untertaking differenct activities like making baskets, giving food and more
A neanderthal caring for another neanderthal hurt by a goat
A chelsea pensioner getting his leg inspected by a doctor
De Hogeweyk – Nursing home
Two women outside the Rotunda hosipital in the 1800s

Currently, the images are mainly European themed but we hope to cover the world in the future.

Comic of story. Student asks, 'Margaret Mead, what is the earliest sign of civilization'. Mead responds, 'the first sign of civilization is a healed femur. In the animal kingdom if you break a leg, you die. A broken and healed femur means that someone has carried the person to safety and cared for them. It means that someone has helped a fellow human, rather than abandoning them.'