Blunt force trauma, cave man style


It might be evidence of the first ever blow struck in anger, etched in a 126000 year-old-skull.
The blow delivered by a blunt object left an indent in the skull.
What is surprising is that the victim survived, his wound healed and he lived to perhaps 60, a ripe age back in hunter gatherer society.


The Maba cranium showing where the lesion lies.


Scientists discovered the injury after high resolution CT scans of a cranium revealed a 14mm long lesion that showed signs of healing.
Their study was released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
The skull is known as the Maba cranium, which was discovered in South West China back in 1958.
While the researchers can’t rule out that Maba Man’s injury was caused by an accident, they are more inclined to believe it was the result of what they call inter human aggression. In modern day terms that would be plain assault.
“This wound is very similar to what is observed today when someone is struck forcibly with a heavy blunt object,” one of the co authors of the paper, Wits university professor Lynne Schepartz said.
Not much has changed, similar injuries are observed in hospital trauma wards today.

. Lion Head Mountain, in South West China, where the Maba cranium was discovered

But where as neurosurgeons and doses of antibiotics help these modern day patients pull through, Maba Man had to get by with the help of his friends.
“They would have had to care and feed him until he was better,” explained Schepartz. At the time, these hunter gatherers were living in small groups perhaps between 20 and 40 strong. Maba Man was likely a heavy burden, but they continued to care for him until he was better.

The Maba cranium

A couple of thousand years later, human on human violence picks up in the palaeoanthropological record.

Man’s wrap sheet begins to grow.
Neanderthal skeletons reveal increasing signs of violence. Ribs pieced by spears and bone crushing blows.
Schepartz and her colleagues hope their work will help explain human aggression and the abilities of early hunter gatherers to survive serious injury and post traumatic disabilities.


About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
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1 Response to Blunt force trauma, cave man style

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