Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

, Volume 92, Issue 4, pp 567–572 | Cite as

Palaeopathology and fate of Ida (Darwinius masillae, Primates, Mammalia)

  • Jens Lorenz FranzenEmail author
  • Jörg Habersetzer
  • Evelyn Schlosser-Sturm
  • Erik Lorenz Franzen
Original Paper


The skeletons of the left and right hands of Ida (Darwinius masillae) were analysed with micro-CT. Evidently, a severe trauma has affected the wrist of the right hand at a time when the carpals were not yet ossified. The background of this accident is discussed.


Primates Darwinius Eocene Palaeopathology Messel 



Senckenberg Museum Frankfurt, Mammalogie (mammalogy).


Zoologische Sammlung, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany



We are indebted to Dr. Jørn H. Hurum for loan of the specimen and financial support of the CT-scanning. We also thank Professor Dr. Wighart von Koenigswald (Bonn) for providing us with micro-CTs of the left hands of an owl monkey (Aotus) and a spider monkey (Ateles), both exhibiting healed fractures of their phalanges. Much effort has been invested by the reviewers, Dr. Michael Wuttke (Mainz), Achim Reisdorf (Basel) and PD Dr. med. Stephan Langer (Witten), who have considerably improved our manuscript. We want to point out that in some points concerning taphonomy our view differs from those of the reviewers M.W. and A.R. We take full responsibility for that.

We also thank PD Dr. med. Frank Unglaub (Bad Rappenau) for advice on the palaeopathology of Darwinius. Other valuable information came from Elvira Brahm (Senckenberg), Dr. Norbert Micklich (Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt), Wolfgang Munk (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe) and Dr. Thomas Lehmann (Senckenberg). Finally, we thank the Ermann Foundation (Senckenberg Frankfurt) for supporting the CT analyses. Dr. Krister Smith kindly corrected the English, while Anika Vogel (both Senckenberg) helped improving the figures.


  1. Currey JD (2002) Bones. Structure and mechanics. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford (contains further references)Google Scholar
  2. Franzen JL (1985) Exceptional preservation of Eocene vertebrates in the lake deposit of Grube Messel (West Germany). Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 311:181–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Franzen JL (1988) Ein weiterer Primatenfund aus der Grube Messel bei Darmstadt. In: Franzen JL, Michaelis W (eds) Der eozäne Messelsee—Eocene Lake Messel. Cour Forsch-Inst Senckenberg 107:275–298Google Scholar
  4. Franzen JL (1997) Ein Koprolith als Leckerbissen. Der siebte Primatenfund aus Messel. Natur und Museum 127(2):46–53Google Scholar
  5. Franzen JL (2007) Eozäne Equoidea (Mammalia, Perissodactyla) aus der Grube Messel bei Darmstadt (Deutschland). Funde der Jahre 1969–2000. Schweiz Paläontol Abh 127:1–245Google Scholar
  6. Franzen JL, Frey E (1993) Europolemur completed. Kaupia-Darmstädter Beitr Naturgesch 3:113–130Google Scholar
  7. Franzen JL, Köster A (1994) Die eozänen Tiere von Messel—ertrunken, erstickt oder vergiftet? Natur und Museum 124(3):91–97Google Scholar
  8. Franzen JL, Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W, Smith BH (2009) Complete primate skeleton from the middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: morphology and paleobiology. PLoS One 4(5):1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Franzen JL, Habersetzer J, Schlosser-Sturm E, Franzen EL (2011) Palaeopathology of Darwinius masillae (Mammalia, Primates). In: Lehmann T, Schaal SFK (eds) The world at the time of Messel: puzzles in the palaeobiology, palaeoenvironment, and the history of the early primates (22nd Int Senckenberg Conf, conference volume). Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main, pp 60–61Google Scholar
  10. Grein M, Konrad W, Wilde V, Utescher T, Roth-Nebelsieck A (2011) Reconstruction of atmospheric CO2 during the early middle Eocene by application of a gas exchange model to fossil plants from the Messel Formation, Germany. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 309:383–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Koenigswald Wv (1983) Skelettfunde von Kopidodon (Condylarthra, Mammalia) aus dem mitteleozänen Ölschiefer der Grube Messel bei Darmstadt. N Jb Geol Paläont Abh 167:1–39Google Scholar
  12. Koenigswald Wv (1990) Die Paläobiologie der Apatemiden (Insectivora s.l.) und die Ausdeutung der Skelettfunde von Heterohyus nanus aus dem Mitteleozän von Messel bei Darmstadt. Palaeontogr A 210:41–77Google Scholar
  13. Koenigswald Wv (1992) The arboreal Kopidodon, a relative of primitive hoofed mammals. In: Schaal S, Ziegler W (eds) Messel. An insight into the history of life and of the Earth. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 233–237Google Scholar
  14. Koenigswald Wv, Storch G, Richter G (1992) Rodents: At the start of a great career. In: Schaal S, Ziegler W (eds) Messel. An insight into the history of life and of the Earth. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 217–222Google Scholar
  15. Kurz C (2007) The opossum-like marsupials (Didelphimorphia and Peradecta, Marsupialia, Mammalia) from the Eocene of Messel and Geiseltal—Ecomorphology, diversity and palaeogeography. Kaupia-Darmstädter Beitr Naturgesch 15:1–64Google Scholar
  16. Richter G (1987) Untersuchungen zur Ernährung eozäner Säuger aus der Fossilfundstätte Messel bei Darmstadt. Cour Forsch-Inst Senckenberg 91:1–33Google Scholar
  17. Schultz AH (1939) Notes on diseases and healed fractures of wild apes and their bearing on the antiquity of pathological conditions in man. Bull Hist Med 7(6):571–582Google Scholar
  18. Smith KT, Wuttke M (2012) From tree to shining sea: taphonomy of the arboreal lizard Geiseltaliellus maarius from Messel, Germany. In: Wuttke M, Reisdorf AG (eds) Taphonomic processes in terrestrial and marine environments. Palaeobio Palaeoenv 92(1):45–65Google Scholar
  19. Thomas C (1992) Histopathologie. Lehrbuch und Atlas für die Kurse der allgemeinen und speziellen Pathologie, 11th edn. Schattauer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Lorenz Franzen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jörg Habersetzer
    • 1
  • Evelyn Schlosser-Sturm
    • 1
  • Erik Lorenz Franzen
    • 3
  1. 1.Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Naturhistorisches Museum BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Marien-Hospital WittenWittenGermany

Personalised recommendations