Unbound MEDLINE

Osteomyelitis in a Paleozoic reptile: ancient evidence for bacterial infection and its evolutionary significance.

Abstract

We report on dental and mandibular pathology in Labidosaurus hamatus, a 275 million-year-old terrestrial reptile from North America and associate it with bacterial infection in an organism that is characterized by reduced tooth replacement. Analysis of the surface and internal mandibular structure using mechanical and CT-scanning techniques permits the reconstruction of events that led to the pathology and the possible death of the individual. The infection probably occurred as a result of prolonged exposure of the dental pulp cavity to oral bacteria, and this exposure was caused by injury to the tooth in an animal that is characterized by reduced tooth replacement cycles. In these early reptiles, the reduction in tooth replacement is an evolutionary innovation associated with strong implantation and increased oral processing. The dental abscess observed in L. hamatus, the oldest known infection in a terrestrial vertebrate, provides clear evidence of the ancient association between terrestrial vertebrates and their oral bacteria.

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  • Publisher Full Text
  • Authors

    Reisz RR, Scott DM, Pynn BR, Modesto SP

    Source

    Die Naturwissenschaften 98:6 2011 Jun pg 551-5

    MeSH

    Bacterial Infections
    Biological Evolution
    Fossils
    Osteomyelitis
    Stomatognathic Diseases

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    21499814