Based on a recently published scientific paper, the first 48-million-year-old mare uterus fossil was discovered in Darmstadt, Germany. The discovery was made public in this week’s number of the PLOS One publication.
- The discovery of the mare fossil
- First results of the X-ray scans
- Conservation of the 48-million-year-old mare fossil
Researchers at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt have recently announced an unprecedented discovery: the unearthing of a mare fossil, which could date back to 48 million years old. This is, however, a small finding compared to what scientists have discovered next: the fossil had an intact uterus and a fully grown fetus.
The fossil, belonging to the Eurohippus messelensis equestrian species, was unearthed in the Grube Messel pit of Darmstadt, Germany. Scientists have taken the bone fragments to their laboratory and conducted regular X-rays on it.
They have noticed an unusual grey streak in the abdomen region and tried to find possible explanations for it. At first, scientists thought the streak might be an abdomen muscle, but they soon realized they were wrong. Eventually, they have understood that the grey area was the mare’s uterus and her fetus.
The cause of death is still unknown, but judging from the information they have collected so far, the mare most probably died during childbirth. Scientists have reached this conclusion after they noticed that the fetus was fully developed. Moreover, the position of the fetus is not correct, which further proves scientists’ hypothesis.
The second aspect that bedazzled scientists was the fact that the mare fossil had been perfectly preserved. In their opinion, the ion amounts in the Grube Messel Lake have contributed to the preservation of the bones.
Researchers have explained that the ion and the bacteria in the water gathered on the surface of the bones and kept them protected against other external factors. The bone fractures were petrified, so scientists got in possession of one of the best preserved fossil.
Eurohippus messelensis was a rare species of horses that lived somewhere between 40 and 60 million years old. They were very distinct compared to the modern horse species in that they were the size of a Fox terrier dog, their maximum height being of 12 inches.
Image source: www.biolib.cz