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Description of a Well Preserved Fetus of the European Eocene Equoid Eurohippus messelensis.

Franzen JL, Aurich C, Habersetzer J - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: The postcranial fetal skeleton is almost complete and largely articulated, allowing the conclusion that the pregnant mare was in late gestation.Death of mare and fetus were probably not related to problems associated with parturition.Soft tissue interpreted as the uteroplacenta and a broad uterine ligament are preserved due to bacterial activity and allow considerations on the evolutionary development of the structures.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department Messelforschung, Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Department Geowissenschaften, Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
The early Middle Eocene locality of Grube Messel, near Darmstadt (Germany), is famous for its complete vertebrate skeletons. The degree of preservation of soft tissues, such as body silhouettes, internal organs and gut contents, is frequently remarkable. The present specimen was analyzed for remnants of the reproductive system. Classic anatomy and osteology and high-resolution micro-x-ray were applied to describe the fetus of the European Eocene equoid Eurohippus messelensis. Scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) was used for determination of soft tissue remnants. The fetus is the earliest and best-preserved fossil specimen of its kind. The postcranial fetal skeleton is almost complete and largely articulated, allowing the conclusion that the pregnant mare was in late gestation. The apparent intrauterine position of the fetus is normal for the phase of pregnancy. Death of mare and fetus were probably not related to problems associated with parturition. Soft tissue interpreted as the uteroplacenta and a broad uterine ligament are preserved due to bacterial activity and allow considerations on the evolutionary development of the structures.

No MeSH data available.


Reconstruction of the original position of the fetus.The reconstruction refers to the almost completely preserved and articulated fetal skeleton as indicated by high-resolution micro-x-ray. Scale = 10 cm.–Reconstruction: Jens Lorenz Franzen; drawing: Mascha Siemund.
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pone.0137985.g010: Reconstruction of the original position of the fetus.The reconstruction refers to the almost completely preserved and articulated fetal skeleton as indicated by high-resolution micro-x-ray. Scale = 10 cm.–Reconstruction: Jens Lorenz Franzen; drawing: Mascha Siemund.

Mentions: Based on the almost completely preserved and articulated skeleton of the fetus, it is possible to reconstruct the fetus’s original position (Fig 10). Its back is situated ventrally and the limbs point dorsally with respect to the vertebral column of the mare, whereas the head is close to the birth channel. By analogy with extant pregnant mares of Equus caballus [18], the stage of ossification of long bones and the development of the deciduous dentition (dP4 already erupted) indicate that birth was imminent. The forelimbs of the fetus are not yet stretched towards the birth channel and the thorax is not yet turned into a dorsal position. These features are normal until the initiation of parturition [11, 19]. It thus seems that the death of the mare and the fetus were probably not related to problems associated with the birth process.


Description of a Well Preserved Fetus of the European Eocene Equoid Eurohippus messelensis.

Franzen JL, Aurich C, Habersetzer J - PLoS ONE (2015)

Reconstruction of the original position of the fetus.The reconstruction refers to the almost completely preserved and articulated fetal skeleton as indicated by high-resolution micro-x-ray. Scale = 10 cm.–Reconstruction: Jens Lorenz Franzen; drawing: Mascha Siemund.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4622040&req=5

pone.0137985.g010: Reconstruction of the original position of the fetus.The reconstruction refers to the almost completely preserved and articulated fetal skeleton as indicated by high-resolution micro-x-ray. Scale = 10 cm.–Reconstruction: Jens Lorenz Franzen; drawing: Mascha Siemund.
Mentions: Based on the almost completely preserved and articulated skeleton of the fetus, it is possible to reconstruct the fetus’s original position (Fig 10). Its back is situated ventrally and the limbs point dorsally with respect to the vertebral column of the mare, whereas the head is close to the birth channel. By analogy with extant pregnant mares of Equus caballus [18], the stage of ossification of long bones and the development of the deciduous dentition (dP4 already erupted) indicate that birth was imminent. The forelimbs of the fetus are not yet stretched towards the birth channel and the thorax is not yet turned into a dorsal position. These features are normal until the initiation of parturition [11, 19]. It thus seems that the death of the mare and the fetus were probably not related to problems associated with the birth process.

Bottom Line: The postcranial fetal skeleton is almost complete and largely articulated, allowing the conclusion that the pregnant mare was in late gestation.Death of mare and fetus were probably not related to problems associated with parturition.Soft tissue interpreted as the uteroplacenta and a broad uterine ligament are preserved due to bacterial activity and allow considerations on the evolutionary development of the structures.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department Messelforschung, Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Department Geowissenschaften, Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
The early Middle Eocene locality of Grube Messel, near Darmstadt (Germany), is famous for its complete vertebrate skeletons. The degree of preservation of soft tissues, such as body silhouettes, internal organs and gut contents, is frequently remarkable. The present specimen was analyzed for remnants of the reproductive system. Classic anatomy and osteology and high-resolution micro-x-ray were applied to describe the fetus of the European Eocene equoid Eurohippus messelensis. Scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) was used for determination of soft tissue remnants. The fetus is the earliest and best-preserved fossil specimen of its kind. The postcranial fetal skeleton is almost complete and largely articulated, allowing the conclusion that the pregnant mare was in late gestation. The apparent intrauterine position of the fetus is normal for the phase of pregnancy. Death of mare and fetus were probably not related to problems associated with parturition. Soft tissue interpreted as the uteroplacenta and a broad uterine ligament are preserved due to bacterial activity and allow considerations on the evolutionary development of the structures.

No MeSH data available.