Child’s foot was removed 31,000 years ago in earliest known amputation

A 31,000-year-old Stone Age skeleton has been found with the lower part of its leg cleanly removed, and the bones reveal that the child survived for several years after it happened

Humans 7 September 2022

The left tibia and fibula showing the amputation surface

The left tibia and fibula end suddenly (on the left) where they were cut

Tim Maloney

A Stone Age child living 31,000 years ago in what is now Borneo seems to have had their leg carefully amputated above the foot and survived for several years afterwards.

This suggests that the hunter-gatherer community the person was part of had the medical skills to stop someone bleeding to death or dying from infection – both common hazards of amputation before modern medicine, says Maxime Aubert at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

Before the latest finding, …

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