(ORDO NEWS) — According to a recently published study, an amazing small bone was found in the heart tissue of several chimpanzees.
The size of this mineralized tissue, not more than a few millimeters, varies among different primates; but overall, the researchers say it seems to be heart failure — a type of heart bone commonly found in large ruminants, but also found in camels and even otters.
But it had never been found in chimpanzees or any other monkey before, which prompted the research team to think about human anatomy.
“The discovery of a new bone in a species is a rare event, especially in chimpanzees, whose anatomy is similar to that of humans. This raises the question of whether some people can also have heart bone, ”says pathologist Catherine Rutland of the University of Nottingham.
Using a high-resolution scan to analyze the structure of the heart framework (the dense connective tissue supporting the heart) of large monkeys, researchers noticed calcification progressing in the hearts of some chimpanzees.
Given the relatively small volume of such research, perhaps this is simply an anatomical feature in some chimpanzees, but researchers have reason to suspect the opposite.
In humans, mineralization of the heart skeleton is usually associated with age and is associated with cardiovascular disease. Although chimpanzees are not as prone to coronary artery problems as humans, heart disease still affects nearly 70 percent of adult captive chimpanzees.
The most common type of heart disease in chimpanzees is idiopathic myocardial fibrosis, which is characterized by the accumulation of fibrous connective tissue associated with arrhythmia – atypical heart rhythms – and sudden cardiac arrest.
Of all 16 hearts examined by the team, only three chimpanzees showed no signs of fibrosis in the hearts, and there were also no areas with increased density. On the other hand, all chimpanzee hearts affected by fibrosis showed bone or cartilage formation and enlarged connective tissue nearby.
“In the remaining seven hearts, areas of increased density were found that were compatible with areas of mineralization or bone formation (shown as very bright areas in the images),” the authors write.
Chimpanzees are an endangered species, and cardiovascular disease is one of the most serious threats to their life in captivity – and possibly also in the wild.
“The clinical and functional consequences of the presence of cartilage and bone tissue in the heart skeleton of chimpanzees have yet to be clarified,” the authors of a new study write.
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