Mammoths suffered from diseases that are typical for people
Sergey Leshchinskiy, paleontologist, head of TSU's Laboratory of Mesozoic and Cenozoic Continental Ecosystems, has studied the remains of Yakut mammoths collected on one of the world's largest paleontological sites of mammoth fauna, Berelyokh. His study showed that almost half of the bones of these ancient mammals have signs of serious pathologies typical for the human skeletal system.
|The openness of the transverse apertures of the cervical vertebrae [Credit: TSU]|
During work with the collection, the research team found that 42 percent of the samples showed signs of diseases of the skeletal system. Among them there were two pathologies that no one in the world had ever detected on the remains of this species.
One of these conditions is known in medicine as "articular mouse," or "rice grain." It occurs when a fragment of bone or cartilaginous tissue is located freely in the joint cavity, explains Sergei Leschinskiy. Quite often, this pathology is observed in humans. When such a fragment enters the articular cavity, severe joint pain occurs. This indicates a serious disease such as subchondral bone necrosis. An animal with this ailment is restricted in movement and often became an easy target for predators.
|The 'articular mouse', or 'rice grain' [Credit: TSU]|
However, in most cases, the mammoths have signs of destructive changes, osteoporosis, osteolysis, osteofibrosis, osteomalacia, articular diseases, and other diseases caused by metabolic disorders by a lack or excess of vital macro and micro elements.
These results confirm the hypothesis of TSU paleontologists that the cause of mass extinction of mammoths was the geochemical stress that arose due to mineral starvation or major ecological changes on the planet.
The research is published in Quaternary International.
Source: National Research Tomsk State University [April 21, 2017]