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Oldest known paralyzed human found

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posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 08:26 PM
‘M9’ depended on others; discovery offers look at ancient support system

By Rossella Lorenzi
updated 4:02 p.m. ET, Thurs., Aug 6, 2009

The remains of a man who could be the world's oldest known paralysis victim have been unearthed by Australian bio-archaeologists in northern Vietnam.

Found at the Neolithic cemetery site of Man Bac, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Hanoi, the remains are between 3,500 and 4,000 years old and belong to an adult male who died around age 25.

Called Man Bac Burial 9, or simply M9, the young man suffered from paraplegia or possibly quadriplegia due to a rare disorder called Klippel-Feil Syndrome, a condition involving congenital fusion of the spine.

The disorder, which can make sufferers look as if they have a short neck, is also often associated with various complications.

In the case of M9, posture-related complications forced his head to tilt to his right side, a condition known as torticollis. M9 also likely had problems chewing.

"Amazingly, this man survived in a subsistence Neolithic economy with total lower body paralysis, and at best minimal upper body mobility for at least a decade prior to death," Lorna Tilley, the Australian National University Ph.D. candidate who excavated the remains with lead researcher Marc Oxenham, told Discovery News.

Completely immobile below the waist, with radically limited upper body mobility and disabling torticollis, M9 was totally dependent on others for every aspect of daily life.

"He needed intensive nursing, not only for basic needs, such as eating, drinking (and) hygiene, but also for preventing or treating the common complications associated with his condition. We are talking of bed sores, urinary tract and gastrointestinal problems, respiratory problems, thrombosis and pain," said Tilley, whose research focuses on care-giving in prehistory.

"The consistency and quality of care he received are what kept him alive, and analyzing this care allows us to draw out features of contemporary social practice," she added.

According to Swiss anatomist and paleopathologist Frank Ruhli, who in the past published the case of a Peruvian mummy believed to be paraplegic due to spinal alterations, the most important aspect of the discovery is the window it provides into the evolution of social support in ancient societies.

"Even if only skeletal remains are preserved - such as in this case of a male individual from Neolitic Asia - one may speculate about the extent of caritative support in a community," Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich, said.

Indeed, the long-term survival of a man with such a severe disability in a community where almost half died before they turned five opens new questions on the prehistoric motivation for care-giving.

"There has been some speculation on whether support was totally altruistic or whether M9 may have had a particular ability that the community needed," said Tilley, who is the author of a forthcoming study on the implications of care provision in M9's Neolithic community.

"Personally, I see no reason to assume that a prehistoric individual who receives care has some special ability. My research suggests that community membership alone is sufficient to explain support," Tilley said.

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 08:36 PM
I don't have anythign to add but flag for you, that is interesting.

Goes against nature's design of people surviving for themselves.

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 09:28 PM
So, can I take this to mean that even our ancient ancestors practiced the art of caring for one another? It seems his life was nurtured, considering he could not survive on his own.

I find it comforting to believe that we have been loving each other so long. It offers the hope that we always will.

[edit on 6-8-2009 by Maxmars]

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 09:33 PM
reply to post by Pauligirl

It sadly shows how far we have fallen. I mean how many of us these days would take the time or wouldn't try to shove it off on someone else?

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 09:48 PM
i like this part, he is so sure of himself

"Personally, I see no reason to assume that a prehistoric individual who receives care has some special ability. My research suggests that community membership alone is sufficient to explain support," Tilley said.

Sure, of course early man cared for one another. the fact we are here proves this, buy why couldnt the individual have "special abilities"

maybe he was a great talker, and told stories, and help teach. couldnt move but talk. Anyways star and flag for you. interesting find

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 09:49 PM
reply to post by Le Colonel

Um if he had problems chewing how good do you think he was goint to talk?

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 10:01 PM
Hello, thank you for youe thread, however I am not sure what all the fuss is about. Please let me explain with a little history lesson.

Anatomically modern humans first appear in the fossil record in Africa about 195000 years ago.

*This is when you could easly accept that huimans cared for the sick *

Until c. 10,000 years ago, most humans lived as hunter-gatherers. They generally lived in small nomadic groups known as band societies. The advent of agriculture prompted the Neolithic Revolution, when access to food surplus led to the formation of permanent human settlements, the domestication of animals and the use of metal tools. Agriculture encouraged trade and cooperation, and led to complex society.

About 6,000 years ago, the first proto-states developed in Mesopotamia, and in the Sahara/Nile and the Indus Valleys.

Around 2,000–3,000 years ago (when this person was said to have lived), some states, such as Persia, India, China, Rome, and Greece, developed through conquest into the first expansive empires. Influential religions, such as Judaism, originating in the Middle East, and Hinduism, a religious tradition that originated in South Asia, also rose to prominence at this time.

So you see, by the time this man lived modern societies were prety much as they are today (human / social behaviour) so not really such a big deal that he was cared for??

Now if they said he lived 60,000 years, then I would be impressed

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 10:06 PM
Star and flag for such an interesting find. Maybe the only thing he did really well was to be loved by others around him.

posted on Aug, 6 2009 @ 11:55 PM
It doesn't surprise me at all. Humans have always cared for their loved ones, especially family members. This body was found in Vietnam. In Asia, there is a huge importance placed on taking care of family members, especially children caring for their parents. I don't think that kind of care just popped up out of nowhere a few thousand years ago. I think that is a basic familial instinct.

posted on Aug, 7 2009 @ 06:28 AM
reply to post by Pauligirl
Nice post PG

While I was reading the article, I expected the archaeologist to explain it as some spiritual/religious reason for the guy's care. It made me smile when he left it basic and put it down to simple human kindness. A little bit of reassurance in the way back when. Cool.

In the thread, I was expecting the 'carbon copy' post that runs, 'Yeah, people were way more in tune and spiritual then. Nobody's like that anymore!' Again, a surprise. I've starred pretty much all posters for seeing the account in a simple way...people are kind to one another more often than not.

Take it easy PG

posted on Aug, 7 2009 @ 06:33 AM
reply to post by WorldObserver

So you see, by the time this man lived modern societies were prety much as they are today (human / social behaviour) so not really such a big deal that he was cared for??

Now if they said he lived 60,000 years, then I would be impressed

This male Neanderthal individual from Shanidar Cave in northern Iraq shows evidence of a suite of injuries suffered prior to death. His right arm was severely atrophied (withered), a condition that he dealt with for most of his life, possibly since birth. He also had a crippled and withered right leg. One of the metatarsals (middle foot bones) on his right foot shows a healed fracture. As if this weren't enough, he also suffered a crushing injury to the left eye that may have deprived him of sight for some time.
Shanidar 1: Neanderthal from 60000ya

This gammy-handed gentleman lived to his 40s. If he hadn't been cared for, it's hard to imagine him living to the age of a toddler

posted on Aug, 7 2009 @ 06:44 AM
maybe it's just me, but i can't imagine any parent abandoning their 15 year old son as he progressively got sicker and sicker, ever in our history. i can't see anyone leaving another person to die as their health deteriorates.

although he might not have survived in other societies. hard to draw much from this other than the person was loved.

nice find though.

posted on Aug, 11 2009 @ 09:44 PM
yet another proof that asians are nice

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