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.

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Artist: Guida Casella

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.'

Credit: Open Past & Guida Casella

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