3D image of Paleolithic child's skull reveals trauma, brain damage

July 23, 2014
This is a 3-D reconstruction of skull compound fracture and endocranial surface changes. Credit: Coqueugniot H, Dutour O, Arensburg B, Duday H, Vandermeersch B, et al. (2014) Earliest Cranio-Encephalic Trauma from the Levantine Middle Palaeolithic: 3D Reappraisal of the Qafzeh 11 Skull, Consequences of Pediatric Brain Damage on Individual Life Condition and Social Care. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102822. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102822

3D imaging of a Paleolithic child's skull reveals potentially violent head trauma that likely lead to brain damage, according to a study published July 23, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hélène Coqueugniot and colleagues from CNRS - Université de Bordeaux and EPHE.

A Paleolithic child that lived ~100 thousand years ago found at Qafzeh in lower Galilee, Israel, was originally thought to have a skull lesion that resulted from a trauma that healed. The child died at about 12-13 years old, but the circumstances surround the child's death remain mysterious. To better understand the injury, the authors of this study aimed to re-appraise the child's impact wound using 3D imaging, which allows scientists to better to explore inner bone lesions, to evaluate their impact on soft tissues, and to estimate brain size to reconstruct the events surrounding the skull trauma.

3D reconstruction reveals that the child's skull fracture appears to be compound, with a broken piece depressed in the skull, surrounded by linear fractures. The authors suggest that this fracture type generally results from a blunt force trauma, often a result of interpersonal violence, but can also occur accidentally. The depressed fracture was likely caused a moderate , possibly resulting in personality changes, trouble controlling movements, and difficulty in social communication. The authors conclude that, the child represents the oldest documented human case of severe trauma available from south-western Asia. Furthermore, the child appears to have received special social attention after death, as the body positioning seems intentional with two deer antlers lying on the upper part of the adolescent's chest, likely suggesting a deliberate ceremonial burial.

Hélène Coqueugniot added, "Digital imaging and 3D reconstruction evidenced the oldest traumatic brain injury in a Paleolithic . Post-traumatic neuropsychological disorders could have impaired social life of this individual who was buried, when teenager, with a special ritual raising the question of compassion in Prehistory."

Related Stories

Concussions can happen in all kids, not just athletes

September 6, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—The gridiron is back in action. From little leagues to professional teams, football frenzy has begun, and with it, concerns about concussions. But it's not just jarring tackles that can lead to concussions ...

Observation in the ER can reduce CT scans in kids

August 6, 2013

The longer a child with minor blunt head trauma is observed in the emergency department, the less likely the child is to require computed tomography (CT) scan, according to the results of a study published online Friday in ...

AAP updates evaluation of child fractures for physical abuse

January 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—A child's age, medical history, presence of other injuries, location and type of fracture, and possible fracture mechanism must be evaluated fully to determine if injuries are caused by abuse, according to a ...

Recommended for you

New weapon in the fight against malnutrition

August 4, 2015

UBC scientists have opened the doors to new research into malnutrition by creating an animal model that replicates the imbalance of gut bacteria associated with the difficult-to-treat disease.

Can four fish oil pills a day keep the doctor away?

July 7, 2015

Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the U.S. because of the perceived cardiovascular benefits of the omega-3 it contains. However, scientific findings on its effectiveness have been conflicting. New ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.