Margaret Mead, the American cultural anthropologist, curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History, and author of Coming of Age in Samoa, in her efforts to make anthropology accessible, addressed students where she was once asked, ‘what is the first sign of civilization?’ As they waited to hear about clay pots and grinding stones Margaret replied, ‘a femur’.
Magaret explained, the first sign of civilization was a broken femur (thighbone) that was fixed. She said a healed femur was evidence that someone helped the wounded person, bound up the wound, and tended through recovery.
If an animal broke a leg, the law of the jungle is, You Die. You cannot run from danger, get to a river for water, or even hunt for food. You become easy prey and food for others. No animal survives with a broken femur long enough for it to heal.
Only we humans discovered to help and heal, to become caretakers and doctors. That was the true start of ‘civilization’.