This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Fossil from 275 million years ago shows oldest abscess

Thanks to HardNosedSkeptic for the link.

The first-known occurrence of an oral infection has been found in a 275-million-year-old fossil.

alt text
The dark area in the centre of the jaw is the evidence of what would have been a painful abscess

The Labidosaurus hamatus fossil, whose detailed analysis using X-rays is described in Naturwissenschaften journal, shows signs of an abscess.

The animal was among the first to have just one set of teeth, rather than continuously replacing them.

The adaptation to a plant-based diet would have made them more susceptible, as humans are, to tooth decay and loss.

The find predates the previous earliest-known example of tooth decay by some 200 million years, and also represents the oldest-known infection in a terrestrial vertebrate.

L hamataus was one of the first fully terrestrial reptiles, and with the evolution from a watery to land-based life came a change in diet.

For millions of years, the animal's predecessors had teeth that continuously replaced themselves; new teeth grew into the inner side of the jaw and, when the loosely-connected outer teeth fell out, rose up to take their place.

However, the diet of tough plant matter that land-based reptiles began to eat did not lend itself to weak teeth, so animals like L hamatus over millions of years evolved more deeply-anchored teeth.

Read on



Planet of the apes

Stephen Cave - Financial Times Comments

What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t


- - Ancestors Trail Walk Comments

WALK DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE ~ 26 AUGUST 2012 - event begins on Saturday 25 August

Astrophysicists simulate 14 billion...

Liat Clark - Comments

Astrophysicists simulate 14 billion years of cosmic evolution in high resolution

Study casts doubt on human-Neanderthal...

Alok Jha - The Guardian Comments

Cambridge scientists claim DNA overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans is a remnant of a common ancestor

Why do organisms build tissues they...

- - Science Blog Comments

Why, after millions of years of evolution, do organisms build structures that seemingly serve no purpose?

New flat-faced human species possibly...

Charles Choi - CBS News Comments

Four decades ago, in 1972, the Koobi Fora Research Project discovered the enigmatic fossilized skull known as KNM-ER 1470 which ignited a now long-standing debate about how many different species of early Homos existed.





Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment