A hole in an ancient cow’s skull could have been surgery practice | Science News

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A hole in an ancient cow’s skull could have been surgery practice

People may have been testing surgical techniques before operating on humans

By
9:00am, April 19, 2018
ancient cow skull

HOLEY COW  A section of bone missing from the right side of a more than 5,000-year-old cow skull (front and back views, shown) resulted from a surgical procedure, researchers say.  

Ancient surgeons may have practiced dangerous skull-opening procedures on cows before operating on people.

A previously excavated cow skull from a roughly 5,400- to 5,000-year-old settlement in France contains a surgically created hole on the right side, a new study finds. No signs of bone healing, which start several days after an injury, appear around the opening. One or more people may have rehearsed surgical techniques on a dead cow, or may have tried unsuccessfully to save a sick cow’s life in what would be the oldest known case of veterinary surgery, researchers conclude online April 19 in Scientific Reports.

Evidence of skull surgery on humans, whether for medical or ritual reasons, goes back about 11,000 years (SN: 5/28/16, p. 12). Ancient surgeons needed to know

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