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The first evidence of an infectious disease in early penguins

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Old Monday 17th July 2017, 20:44   #1
Fred Ruhe
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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The first evidence of an infectious disease in early penguins

Piotr Jadwiszczak & Bruce M. Rothschild, 2017

The first evidence of an infectious disease in early penguins

Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology. in press. doi:10.1080/08912963.2017.1353606


Traces of skeletal response to trauma are poorly documented for early (i.e. Paleogene, 66–23 Ma) penguins (Sphenisciformes) and infectious diseases that afflicted these seabirds have not been previously put on record. We report osteomyelitis (OM), typically a bacterial infection of bone, in a proximal pedal phalanx of a ‘giant’ penguin from the Eocene (56–34 Ma) of West Antarctica. Osteomyelitis had apparently complicated healing of a fracture. The injury left an oblique scar within the proximal aspect of the plantar surface, resulting in deformation of the articular surface. The recognised evidence of OM includes characteristic periosteal reaction as well as focal bone-loss and necrosis.


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