Fractures Heal in Order to Survive – Evidence from Earliest Humans

Did one of our earliest ancestors, "Lucy" fall from a tree and survive multiple fractured bones ?
Did one of our earliest ancestors, “Lucy” fall from a tree and survive multiple fractured bones ?

“Lucy,” the early human ancestor who lived 3.2 million years ago, may have died from fractures.  And these broken bones may have been the result of a fall from a tree. This hypothesis was reported in the journal Nature after investigation from an anthropologist from the University of Texas.

During the evolution from quadruped to upright walking, early hominid ancestors  still could take refuge to escape predators and to sleep in nearby trees. Bipedalism allowed our early ancestors to see over the grass of the Savannah. Yet there was food and shelter in the trees. An analysis of Lucy’s skeleton remains demonstrated breaks in her right arm, left shoulder, right ankle and left knee. Researchers indicate these injuries are consistent with a fall from a high perch in a tree. An anthropologist at the University of Texas in Austin published findings in the journal Nature. Other researchers, including Lucy’s discoverer, contend that most of the fractures in Lucy’s bones came after her death, from the fossilization process and natural forces such as such as erosion.  

While working at Columbia-Presbyterian Neurological Institute in New York City, Doug Landau noted that when they took x-rays of monkey colony, many of the rhesus had healed fractures in their arms and legs. This indicated that monkeys actually miss a branch and fall from trees! Landau thought that the apes would never have survived in the wild if they missed a catch, branch or trunk like the cartoon character “George of the Jungle.”  However, these rhesus sustained broken bones that obviously healed well enough to enable them to survive in the wild.  

It is apparent that in our evolution, the swift healing of long bone fractures was important for ultimate survival. Especially in lawyer Landau’s healthy client population (such as endurance athletes),  fractures heal fairly quickly. The same is true for active, healthy  children and young adults who do not have co-morbidities like obesity, calcium deficiency or diabetes. If you have sustained a fracture, and you have questions about compensation for broken bones caused by the unsafe conduct of someone else, please call us or e-mail us at the Herndon law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd. We don’t “monkey around” with serious injury cases!