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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 102:149-156 (2012)  -  DOI:

Severe soft tissue ossification in a southern right whale Eubalaena australis

Luciano F. La Sala1,2,*, Luciana M. Pozzi1,3,4, Denise McAloose5, Frederick S. Kaplan6,7, Eileen M. Shore6,8, Erwin J. O. Kompanje9, Inga F. Sidor10, Luciana Musmeci1,3,4, Marcela M. Uhart1,11

1Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program, CC No. 19, 9120 Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina
2Centro de Estudios Cuantitativos en Salud Animal, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, 2170 Casilda, Sante Fe, and CONICET, Argentina
3Fundación Patagonia Natural, Marcos A. Zar 760, 9120 Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina
4Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET), Blvd. Brown 2915, 9120 Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina
5Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Blvd., New York, New York 10460, USA
6Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Center for Research in FOP and Related Disorders, and 7Department of Medicine, Two Silverstein Pavilion, 3400 Spruce St., and 8Department of Genetics, 424 Stemmler Hall, 3450 Hamilton Walk, The Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6081, USA
9Natural History Museum Rotterdam, Westzeedijk 345, AA Rotterdam, The Netherlands
10NH Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Kendall Hall, 129 Main Street, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA
11Global Health Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, CC No. 19, 9120 Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina

ABSTRACT: The carcass of a stranded southern right whale Eubalaena australis, discovered on the coast of Golfo Nuevo in Península Valdés, Argentina, exhibited extensive orthotopic and heterotopic ossification, osteochondroma-like lesions, and early degenerative joint disease. Extensive soft tissue ossification led to ankylosis of the axial skeleton in a pattern that, in many respects, appeared more similar to a disabling human genetic disorder, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), than to more common skeletal system diseases in cetaceans and other species. This is the first reported case of a FOP-like condition in a marine mammal and raises important questions about conserved mechanisms of orthotopic and heterotopic ossification in this clade.

KEY WORDS: Baleen whale · Ankylosis · Joint disease · Orthotopic/heterotopic ossification · Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva · FOP

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Cite this article as: La Sala LF, Pozzi LM, McAloose D, Kaplan FS and others (2012) Severe soft tissue ossification in a southern right whale Eubalaena australis. Dis Aquat Org 102:149-156.

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