Oldest Foetus in Horse Fossil

Friday, October 09, 2015

Oldest Foetus

A study published in the open-access journal PLOS One states that researchers from Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt have identified a well preserved 48-million-year-old foetus of a horse predecessor. The fossil was discovered near Frankfurt, Germany in 2000.

Scientists identified the foetus after scanning the bones and anatomy of European Eocene equid Eurohippus messelensis by using electronic microscopy (SEM) and high-resolution micro-x-ray. The foetus, mostly intact, is approximately 12.5 centimetres long.

The fossil is so well preserved that researchers were able to reconstruct the original appearance of the foetus. According to scientists, the mother might have died shortly before the birth of the foetus. However, they delinked the mare’s death from pregnancy. In addition, researchers also discovered soft tissues like uteroplacenta and one broad uterine ligament which possibly represent the earliest fossil records of the uterine system of a placental mammal. 

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