Called os cordis , this bone is at the heart of very few species of animals, and has now been found in some chimpanzees, which could be important in monitoring their health and conservation : wild chimpanzees are endangered and cardiovascular disease is very common in this species
Its discoverers have been researchers at the University of Nottingham . The research is published in Scientific Reports .
Myocardial fibrosis is the most common type of heart disease in chimpanzees and has been linked to the development of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death . The small bones of the heart ‘os cordis’, which measured a few millimeters in size, were more likely to be present in chimpanzees with this disease.
This surprising new finding was made possible by several techniques, including an advanced imaging method called microcomputed tomography. As lead author Catrin Rutland explains:
The discovery of a new bone in a new species is a rare event, especially in chimpanzees that have an anatomy so similar to that of people. It raises the question of whether some people might also have a cordis.
Bone can support essential heart valves, develop due to heart disease, or even disrupt the electrical system that controls the heart. Its function is still being investigated , but this work shows that cartilage was present in addition to bone, offering insight into the mechanisms through which bone growth began.