A case study of vertebral fusion in a 19th-century horse from Serbia
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Objective: To evaluate the etiology of skeletal changes noted in equid vertebrae from a 19th- century context near Belgrade, Serbia. Materials: A vertebral column consisting of 15 fused thoracic vertebrae (T2-T16), with right ribs fused to T4 and T5 and small remnants of ribs articulating with T4, T5 and T6 on the left side were accidentally recovered during industrial exploitation of sand. Methods: The specimen was subjected to morphological analysis and collagen fingerprinting by mass spectrometry for species identification. In order to determine the absolute temporal context, radiocarbon dating was employed. Pathological changes were analyzed macroscopically and then underwent X-ray and (CT) imaging. Results: Species identification indicates that the vertebral column belonged to a domestic horse (Equus caballus) living in the early 19th century. Pathological changes included exuberant bone proliferation, fusion of small articulations, enthesopathy formation, complete fusion between ...the vertebral bodies, and ossification of the anterior longitudinal ligament. Conclusions: Pathological changes represent signs of an advanced stage of vertebral fusion consistent with diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH). Significance: This case study provides a clear distinction between diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) and other vertebral column diseases in equids. It also presents a new and significant contribution to the nascent discipline of animal paleopathology in present-day Serbia. Limitations: Given that only 15 thoracic vertebrae were discovered, the impact of this disease on other parts of the horse skeleton remains unknown, as does the archaeological context of the remains. Suggestions for further research: Research into the frequency of DISH in equids, as well as the historical context of equine husbandry in Serbia will allow greater insight into the causes and effects of this pathological condition.
Keywords:Equids / DISH / ZooMS / C14
Source:International Journal of Paleopathology, 2019, 27, 17-23
- Elsevier Science Inc, New York