A skeleton of a young adult about 31,000 years old was found in a cave in Indonesia. The skeleton was missing its left foot and part of the left leg. Scientists say this could be evidence of the oldest known amputation of all humanity. 

According to the study, scientists believe the amputation procedure was practiced when the subject was a child. The child lived many years without its left leg. What this could mean is prehistoric humans made medical advances at a much earlier time than scientists were known to believe.

Tim Maloney, an archaeologist from Australia came across a cave in the rainforest region of Borneo, Indonesia. Researchers were in Borneo investigating a cave that was known to have the earliest rock in the world. The remains found in the cave were examined after it was found fully intact. Except for its left foot and part of the left leg. Their conclusion was the foot wasn’t missing or lost due to an accident. It was precisely cut from the actual leg. The cut itself was very clean and slanted for such a period. Scientists could also see that the bone of the left leg healed. Researchers also claim it’s possible the young skeleton lived up to nine more years after the amputation

Researchers are speculating how the cut of the leg was made and how they prevented infection. And that it’s possible a piece of sharp stone was used to sever the leg and the plant life in the region has medicinal uses.

This type of find  “rewrites the history of human medical knowledge and developments,” said Tim Maloney during a press briefing.

Until now, they were only able to trace what was thought to be the first amputation from a French farmer 7,000 years ago. The farmer had part of his forearm removed. Scientists believed medical advances would only go as far as 10,000 years ago but these new studies say otherwise.

“It had long been assumed that healthcare is a newer invention,” stated Alecia Schrenk, an expert anthropologist at the University of Nevada. “Research like this article demonstrates that prehistoric peoples were not just left to fend for themselves.”