A Skull Fossil of a Parataxidea Discovered in China Is a New Paleopathological Breakthrough

By: April Carson



For the first time in China, scientists have discovered a skull fossil of a Parataxidea of the mustelidae species with ossifying fibroma, according to a new discovery in paleopathology by a multinational team of Chinese and international researchers on Monday.


The Parataxidea are a family of carnivorous mammals that includes weasels, badgers, otters and wolverines. The new skull fossil, found in China's Yunnan Province, is the first of its kind to be discovered in Asia and provides valuable insight into the evolution of this family of animals.


"This is a significant discovery for understanding the evolutionary history of the mustelids," said lead author Dr. Xie Xiaoming from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "It also represents a new paleopathological breakthrough in our understanding of ossifying fibroma."


The distal region of the maxillary teeth in the newly discovered fossil skull displays significant hyperplasia, which was identified as ossifying fibroma, making Parataxidea the first known case of mustelidae animal suffering from ossifying fibroma.


Ossifying fibroma is a type of non-cancerous tumor that is commonly found in humans. This finding suggests that ossifying fibroma may have had an evolutionary origin prior to the divergence of mustelids and humans.


A research team led by Xing Lida, associate professor from China University of Geosciences in Beijing, discovered a fossil skull of a tiny Parataxidea in the Linxia Basin in Northwest China's Gansu Province, according to a press release from the Global Times on Monday.


Paleopathology is the study of fossil or subfossil creatures' pathological changes using modern medical principles, which is divided into a variety of fields such as pathology, biology, physical anthropology, and archaeology.


The study of this Parataxidea skull revealed that it suffered from multiple pathologies, including osteomyelitis and ossifying fibroma.


Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone or bone marrow, while ossifying fibroma is a tumor that consists of bone or calcified tissue.


This is the first time that a case of osteomyelitis has been found in a fossil mustelid, and the second oldest case found in any mammal.


The Parataxidea lived some 12 million years ago during the Early Miocene epoch.

It was quite common for ancient vertebrates to be wounded and sick in their natural habitats. Because of the challenges presented by fossils buried, the majority of paleopathological findings come from skeletal pathological modifications in individual creatures.


Over the previous decade, Xing's research team has studied paleopathology and produced paleopathology theses on a number of ancient creatures including Sinoraptor, Sinosaurus, Lufengosaurus, and Yabeinosaurus in regard to pathological bone, joint, and tooth changes.


The Liushu Formation's Liushu skull fossil was found near Baihua, Linxia Basin, during an excavation in the middle of the Late Miocene. It has a duration of 6.3 million years. Only the back of the fossil skull was harmed, with the rest being completely preserved.


It came from a 10.5-million-year-old adult Parataxidea specimen, which is in the mustelidae family of Carnivora and Mammalia's genus takes its name after. This new discovery represents the first skull fossil of the Parataxidea to be found in China.


When the fossil was being cleaned, deformities in the maxillofacial region were discovered, as well as apparent abnormal hyperplasia and expansion in the position of the posterior teeth on either side of the jaw.


The research team conducted a micro CT scan on the fossil and high-density tissue was discovered, allowing for a more accurate diagnosis.


Hyperplasia and growth were observed to be in agreement with the appearance of ossifying fibroma, according to a comparison of pathological changes investigated by contemporary medical diagnosis.


A CT scan of the calf shows the tumor developed during its juvenile period.

The ossifying fibroma was likely the result of a benign tumor that had not metastasized, and did not kill the individual.


This is the first diagnosis of ossifying fibroma in an ancient human skeleton.

While this finding does not change our understanding of human evolution, it offers a new perspective on paleopathology.


In general, ossifying fibroma pain was not apparent, but the illness had a significant impact on one's teeth. It can induce malocclusion of the teeth and prevent the upper and lower teeth from coming together, which affects food chewing.


The disease did not appear to affect the animal's growth, according to an examination of its skull size. The Parataxidea was probably fed a soft and easy-to-digest main diet, according to the researchers.


The discovery adds new material and a different angle to research on ossifying fibroma, as well as proof that Austrian paleontologist Otto Zdansky first dubbed the creature Parataxidea and believed it fed on fish as its primary nutrition, the researchers said.


The fossilized skull of a Parataxidea found in China is providing new insight into the origins of a rare disease known as ossifying fibroma.


The study published in the International Journal of Paleobiology was a collaborative effort between scientists from both home and abroad.










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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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