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Lukševičs et al., 2009

The earliest evidence of host-parasite interactions in vertebrates

Lukševics, E., Lebedev, O., Mark-Kurik, E., Karatajūtė-Talimaa, V.
AjakiriActa Zoologica
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Eesti autor


Traces of parasite action have been discovered in the Middle–Upper Devonian fish from Estonia, Latvia and European Russia. Such traces are known in heterostracan Psammolepis venyukovi, antiarchs Asterolepis radiata and Bothriolepis ciecere, sarcopterygians Holoptychius sp., Ventalepis ketleriensis and Eusthenodon sp. nov. The traces include evidence of parasitic fixation and penetration as well as dwelling traces. Pathologies are developed as (1) round fossulae on the external surface of bones and scales; (2) oval fossulae with a slight elevation in the centre of the pit; (3) hollow swellings (possible galls); (4) openings (perforations) that have been repaired to various degrees; (5) variously shaped buttresses on the visceral surface of sarcopterygian scales; and (6) porous spongy formations on the non-overlapped surface of sarcopterygian scales. The round fossulae in sarcopterygian, placoderm and psammosteid skeletal elements could be produced by parasites that are similar to copepod crustaceans. Gall formation in Asterolepis is most likely to be caused by a larva, possibly of a trematode. The perforations of scales (and dermal bones) might arise from the attacks of ectoparasites (copepods?) or different worms. The spongy formations on the Holoptychius scales could be the result of invasion of a unicellular parasite.

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