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.

De Hogeweyk – Nursing home
The inside courtyard of an almshouse
A child with a scraped knee.
People hunting a mammoth - one has fallen and hurt their leg
Images of broken bones and test that says - helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts
Hands holding flowers
Two women outside the Rotunda hosipital in the 1800s
Image of women kneeling next to a pond and temple
Three people taking different types of medication. Inside the medication are images of scientists.
Hands holding a range of bronse age toys - figures and animals

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.'