Contributions of paleorheumatology to understanding contemporary disease.


Contributions of paleorheumatology to understanding contemporary disease.


Rothschild B






As paleopathology has evolved from observational speculation to analysis of testable hypotheses, so too has recognition of its contribution to vertebrate paleontology. In the presence of significant structural and density variation (between matrix and osseous structures), x-rays provide an additional perspective of osseous response to stress and disease. As film techniques are time and cost expensive, fluoroscopy has proven a valuable alternative. Radiologic techniques also allow non-invasive "sectioning" of specimens, illustrating significant internal detail. The object can be "split" on a plane and the two portions rotated to "open" the image. This three-dimensional approach now can be applied to other forms of sequential data to their facilitate 3-dimensional representation graphically or with solid representations. Antigen and microstructure may be well preserved in fossils. Molecular preservation with retention of helical structure and sensitivity to collagenase has been demonstrated in 10,000 year old collagen. Antigen has been extracted from 100 million year old bone and documented, in situ, in 11,000 year old bone. If the appropriate site in the tissue is assessed, if antigen is still present, and if the appropriate antisera is utilized, fixation of the antibody to the specimen can be detected. Minute amounts of DNA can be amplified and analyzed. Recovery of DNA from a 40,000 year old mammoth, 17,000 year old bison and from 25 million year old insects provides opportunity for cloning and independent assessment of relationships. Implications of available technology focuses direction for development of collaborative approaches.


Humans; Animals; Immunohistochemistry; Body Temperature; Phylogeny; Osteoarthritis/pathology; Radiography; Fossils; Bone Remodeling; DNA; DNA/genetics/isolation & purification; *Paleopathology/instrumentation/methods; *Rheumatology; Bone and Bones/chemistry/diagnostic imaging/immunology; Bone Diseases/*pathology; Collagen/immunology/isolation & purification; Dinosaurs; Gout/pathology; Joint Diseases/*pathology; Mammals; Microscopy/methods; Rheumatic Diseases/pathology; Imaging; Arthritis; Three-Dimensional; Sequence Analysis; Infectious/pathology; Reactive/pathology


Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).








Rothschild B, “Contributions of paleorheumatology to understanding contemporary disease.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed October 1, 2023,