Description of a Well Preserved Fetus of the European Eocene Equoid Eurohippus messelensis
Jens Lorenz Franzen , Christine Aurich, Jörg Habersetzer
Published: October 7, 2015DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137985
The early Middle Eocene locality of Grube Messel, near Darmstadt (Germany), is famous for its complete vertebrate skeletons. The degree of preservation of soft tissues, such as body silhouettes, internal organs and gut contents, is frequently remarkable. The present specimen was analyzed for remnants of the reproductive system. Classic anatomy and osteology and high-resolution micro-x-ray were applied to describe the fetus of the European Eocene equoid Eurohippus messelensis. Scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) was used for determination of soft tissue remnants. The fetus is the earliest and best-preserved fossil specimen of its kind. The postcranial fetal skeleton is almost complete and largely articulated, allowing the conclusion that the pregnant mare was in late gestation. The apparent intrauterine position of the fetus is normal for the phase of pregnancy. Death of mare and fetus were probably not related to problems associated with parturition. Soft tissue interpreted as the uteroplacenta and a broad uterine ligament are preserved due to bacterial activity and allow considerations on the evolutionary development of the structures.
Citation: Franzen JL, Aurich C, Habersetzer J (2015) Description of a Well Preserved Fetus of the European Eocene Equoid Eurohippus messelensis. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0137985. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137985
Editor: Andrew A. Farke, Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, UNITED STATES
Received: January 15, 2015; Accepted: August 24, 2015; Published: October 7, 2015
Copyright: © 2015 Franzen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper.
Funding: These authors have no support or funding to report.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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