5000 Years Ago We Practiced Brain Surgery On Cows

Samuel Reason | April 23rd, 2018

A cow skull has been discovered with a punctured hole in it from a crude human tool. This is most likely the first known attempt of skull surgery, and it is 5,000 years old. There is no way to tell if the cow was alive or dead during the procedure, but if the skull shows no signs of healing so, unfortunately, the cow did not survive the surgery.

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The real question is why would someone do this in the first place. Potentially it was practice for a primitive brain surgery known as trepanation: the process of drilling a hole in a head to reduce blood pressure in the skull. If it actually was an attempt to cure the cow then it may have been the first veterinary surgery ever. The other theory is that Neolithic humans were simply practicing their technique, before moving on to humans.

Meaning it could be the very first type of medical learning, training for the real thing. Anthropologists all over the world are a little puzzled when the cow head was unearthed in the Neolithic site of Champ-Durand in Vendee, France. The skull was clearly an adult cow and estimated to have lived between 3400 B.C and 3000 B.C, but when past researchers looked at it they thought another cow must have caused the hole.

However, researcher Ramirez Rozzi who decided to look into this case again recently quickly proved that no cow had made this hole. The size of the hole was too strange and if it had been caused by a fight, then there would have been bone splinters and fractures. There was no evidence of any violent blow causing a fracture. When he scanned it further, the resemblance to human trepanation patients was clear.

Not much is known about this ancient practice, was it really to help a medical condition? Or was it some sort of ritual. Whatever the case, they definitely tried it on this poor cow.

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