Sick Permian reptile discovery


This May 2015 video says about itself:

Ancestral Evolution – Ichthyostega to Varanops

It takes over 3 billion years for our ancestor to evolve from a single cell to a foot-long armoured fish. Our future looks bleak but natural selection throws us a lifeline. Over millions of years and thousands of generations, our body adapts until we do something no fish has done before, breathe air! The air travels into a new organ, a lung. Take a breath and remember it’s because a monster fish chased our ancestor into stagnant water forcing them to breathe air. We’re Ichthyostega, we can breathe air or water, closing off our windpipe to switch between lungs and gills. Today our gills are gone but the mechanism remains and sometimes it spasms giving us the hiccups. 365 million years ago we stick our head out of the water, there’s a swamp behind us, paradise ahead, the choice is simple but the consequences are immense. We pull ourselves out of the water and change the course of history.

From PLOS:

Permian lizard-like animal suffered from a bone condition similar to Paget’s disease

Susceptibility to this type of disease may extend back to the Early Permian

August 7, 2019

A lizard-like animal that lived 289 million years ago suffered from a bone condition similar to Paget’s disease, according to a study published August 7, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Yara Haridy of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin and colleagues. This is the most ancient known case of such a disease.

The animal in question belonged to an extinct group of lizard-like creatures called varanopids, relatives of the earliest ancestors of mammals or reptiles.

It is still uncertain whether varanopids were ‘mammal-like reptiles’, ancestral to mammals, or rather diapsids, ancestral to lizards, dinosaurs, etc.

The authors identified the disease in an isolated pair of tail vertebrae discovered in an Early Permian cave at Richards Spur, Oklahoma. Micro-CT scanning allowed examination of both the external and internal structure of the elements, revealing that in some places the bone had been thinned by abnormally high levels of reabsorption, while in other areas excessive bone growth had resulted in abnormal bone thickening and the ultimate fusion of the two vertebrae.

According to the researchers, this condition is most similar to Paget’s disease, a bone metabolic disorder marked by a breakdown in communication between bone building cells and bone destroying cells. Paget’s disease is commonly seen today in the hips and vertebrae of humans and has been diagnosed in other living mammals and reptiles as well as one Early Jurassic dinosaur fossil. The disease has been linked to both genetic and viral factors, though its precise cause remains controversial.

With only two vertebrae preserved, it is impossible to say how widespread the disease was in this animal’s body. If it was restricted to the tail, the animal may only have suffered minor pain and stiffness. This discovery marks the oldest known occurrence of a Paget-like disease and suggests that susceptibility to such disorders was already present in our early Permian cousins.

Haridy adds: “Paleopathology is the study of ancient diseases, here we scanned a pair of fused tail bones from a permian (280 million years ago) Varanopid (a superficially-lizard like animal), what we found was evidence of a bone disease similar to modern day Paget’s disease. This enigmatic disease is still not well understood in humans, however finding something similar in an ancient animal likely links it to something deep in our bone biology. This study is a great example of how when palaeontologists have well preserved fossils we can tell a lot more than just what animals were present, we can explore their biology, physiology and even what diseases ailed them!”

1 thought on “Sick Permian reptile discovery

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.