First evidence for an unusual congenital pathology in cave bears

phys.org | 2/20/2019 | Staff
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Scientists from the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) have published a paper in the International Journal of Paleopathology that describes the first case of a congenital pathology in vertebrae of a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus). The findings were based on a specimen recovered in the 2014 excavation campaign in the archaeological and paleontological site of Cueva de Guantes, in Santibáñez de la Peña (Palencia).

The provincial representative of the Junta de Castilla y León, Luis Domingo González, and the CENIEH researchers Ana Mateos and Jesús Rodríguez, and curator of the Museo Provincial de Palencia, Javier Abarquero, reported on the archaeological and scientific results yielded by a decade of excavation campaigns, including the present study.

Bear - Years - Block - Vertebra - CBV

The bear, which lived over 30,000 years ago, suffered from congenital block vertebra (CBV), a disorder occurring during the fetal stage that hampers the proper development of the spinal column. The specific case in the paper describes a bone anomaly affecting the last two cervical vertebrae (C6-C7), which appear connected instead of separated.

This finding is the first evidence of a pathology of this kind in a prehistoric bear. Although not unheard of in other mammals, it is found very rarely (2 to 3 percent), indicating how unusual this discovery is. Despite the striking nature of the lesion, it is not very likely that the condition affected its owner's life or survival. The pathological specimen was recovered during the 2014 excavation campaign and has been deposited in the Museo de Palencia.

Cueva - Guantes - System - Cavities - Municipality

The Cueva de Guantes is a system of cavities situated in the municipality of Santibáñez de la Peña, between the localities of Villanueva de Arriba and Villaoliva...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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