A 48-million-old baby horse was found in Germany.
Researchers discovered a 48-million-old mare with its placenta kept in perfect condition. This means that today’s mare uterus developed many years ago.
It seems that the mare was pregnant at the moment of death, so the fetus remained in the ancient placenta.
Researchers gave a detailed account of the historic specimen in a study published on Wednesday in PLOS ONE journal. They stated that this is the oldest discovery of its kind.
“The excellent preservation proves that the uterine system of mammals developed at the latest during the Paleocene more probably already during the Mesozoic,” the study highlights.
In other words, mammals were able to carry the fetus in their nourishing placenta millions of years ago.
A dark spot and a wrinkling in the mare made researchers discover the placenta. When the amniotic fluid of a mare gets outside the uterus, a wrinkling can be seen on the external wall of the uterus. In order to confirm that the discovery was indeed a placenta, scientists used electronic microscopy and analyzed the bacteria that helped at its preservation.
The newly discovered mare was in her late pregnancy, but scientists don’t believe that she died because of pregnancy complications.
The mare, Eurohippus messelensis, was found at Messel archeological site in Germany, along with other 16 skeletons of ancient horses.
Although the old uterus resembles very much the actual mare’s uterus, there are some slight differences between the old mare and the modern one: the former is smaller and is antelope body-like. As for their way of feeding, they would eat leaves, seeds and fruits.
Lorenz Franzen, the lead author of the study, stated that these kinds of discoveries provide useful information about life’s development many years ago.
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