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Tapeworm eggs discovered in 270-million-year-old fossil shark feces

Date:
January 30, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A cluster of tapeworm eggs discovered in 270-million-year-old fossilized shark feces suggests that intestinal parasites in vertebrates are much older than previously known.

Parasite eggs in a shark coprolite. A - Thin section of the coprolite part containing clustered parasite eggs. B – Cestode eggs, the perfect oval shape hole were formed after the filling were reaped out from the coprolite during the lamination, the arrows show the operculum.
Credit: Paula C. Dentzien-Dias et al. Tapeworm Eggs in a 270 Million-Year-Old Shark Coprolite. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (1): e55007 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055007

A cluster of tapeworm eggs discovered in 270-million-year-old fossilized shark feces suggests that intestinal parasites in vertebrates are much older than previously known, according to research published Jan. 30 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Paula Dentzien-Dias and colleagues from the Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil.

Remains of such parasites in vertebrates from this era are rare- of 500 samples examined, only one revealed the tapeworm eggs. This particular discovery helps establish a timeline for the evolution of present-day parasitic tapeworms that occur in foods like pork, fish and beef.

The fossilized eggs were found in a cluster very similar to those laid by modern tapeworms. Some of them are un-hatched and one contains what appears to be a developing larva. According to the study, "This discovery shows that the fossil record of vertebrate intestinal parasites is much older than was previously known and occurred at least 270-300 million years ago."

The fossil described in this study is from Middle-Late Permian times, a period followed by the largest mass extinction known, when nearly 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out.

Financial support was provided by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientıfico e Tecnologico -- Brazil (CNPq) through a study grant (PCD-D, AEQF and BH) and the Project 478914/2006-7 (Edital MCT/CNPq 02/2006 -- Universal). This work was also partially funded by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientıfico e Tecnologico through scholarships granted to AEQF, BH and CLS.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paula C. Dentzien-Dias, George Poinar, Ana Emilia Q. de Figueiredo, Ana Carolina L. Pacheco, Bruno L. D. Horn, Cesar L. Schultz. Tapeworm Eggs in a 270 Million-Year-Old Shark Coprolite. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (1): e55007 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055007

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Tapeworm eggs discovered in 270-million-year-old fossil shark feces." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130184200.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, January 30). Tapeworm eggs discovered in 270-million-year-old fossil shark feces. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130184200.htm
Public Library of Science. "Tapeworm eggs discovered in 270-million-year-old fossil shark feces." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130184200.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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