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Palaeobiology

Calcification of early vertebrate cartilage

Naturevolume 417page609 (2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Hagfish and lampreys are unusual for modern vertebrates in that they have no jaws and their skeletons are neither calcified nor strengthened by collagen — the cartilaginous elements of their endoskeleton are composed of huge, clumped chondrocytes (cartilage cells). We have discovered that the cartilage in a 370-million-year-old jawless fish, Euphanerops longaevus, was extensively calcified, even though its cellular organization was similar to the non-mineralized type found in lampreys. The calcification of this early lamprey-type cartilage differs from that seen in modern jawed vertebrates, and may represent a parallel evolutionary move towards a mineralized endoskeleton.

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Affiliations

  1. CNRS, UMR 8569, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, Cedex 05, 75231, France

    • Philippe Janvier
  2. Parc de Miguasha, CP 183, Nouvelle, GOC2EO, Canada

    • Marius Arsenault

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Philippe Janvier.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/417609a

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