General, Research, Technology

Why do monkeys need a bone inside the heart?

The heart is the most important organ of all vertebratescreatures, which provides the movement of blood in various parts of the body. It consists almost entirely of soft tissue and, it would seem, there is no place for bones in it. However, recently researchers from the University of Nottingham (England) found that a bone forms in the heart of some older chimpanzees over time. At the moment, the exact purpose of this bone is unknown, but scientists have two assumptions. Perhaps it is a sign of a cardiovascular disease that shortens the life of monkeys. But it is also likely that this bone, on the contrary, is trying to save primates from death - it can help the heart to contract in a normal mode. But which version is closer to the truth?

The word chimpanzee "chimpanzee" comes from the language of chilub and means "like a man"


  • 1 Similarities between humans and monkeys
  • 2 Myocardial fibrosis
  • 3 New animal bone
  • 4 Extinction of animals

The similarity of man and monkey

The unexpected discovery of scientists was described inscientific journal Scientific Reports. Chimpanzees are considered our closest relatives and their heart is in many ways similar to ours. Therefore, with age, they also experience various cardiovascular diseases, which often become the causes of their death. And in the world of people, heart problems are the main causes of death - even from cancer, humanity dies more slowly.

There are many similarities between humans and chimpanzees, but we are very different from gorillas. Their strong hearts have a spherical shape - I wrote about this in the material about the need for sports

Myocardial fibrosis

One of the most common among the elderlychimpanzee disease, is considered the so-called myocardial fibrosis. This disease occurs when a lot of fibrous connective tissue forms in the region of the heart, which has high strength and is needed to support organs. It is believed that the proliferation of this tissue is a natural reaction of the body - so it tries to isolate the inflamed area from healthy tissues. Its accumulation in the heart can lead to a violation of the heart rate and, ultimately, to death.

Fibrous tissue does not stretch well, in this image it is shown on the right

According to scientists, myocardial fibrosis and him70% of captive chimpanzees suffer from such diseases. In this regard, they decided to study the condition of the hearts of elderly monkeys using computed tomography. This technology allows you to look at the internal organs without surgical intervention. In total, the researchers studied the hearts of 16 chimpanzees, some of which had recently turned 59 years old. For these monkeys, this is almost a record life expectancy, because on average chimpanzees live about 39 years.

The world's oldest chimpanzee died in 2017. Her name was Blossom, she was 62 years old

New animal bone

Among all the monkeys examined, fromof the aforementioned myocardial fibrosis, only three individuals suffered. But they, as well as several relatively healthy, but still elderly chimpanzees, the researchers found unusual compaction in the heart. It was formed in the place where in some animals the so-called "heart bone" (os cordis) is located. For example, cows have it - it is believed that the dense part of the heart increases its endurance. And it is very important for cows, because every day they need to pump about 10 thousand liters of blood through the udder, this is a big work for their heart.

This is the very “heart bone” found in chimpanzees

According to one of the authors of the study, CatherineRutland (Catrin Rutland), the discovery of a new bone in animals - this is a very rare occurrence. Since the structure of the organisms of chimpanzees and humans is very similar, they are interested in - can the discovered bone eventually appear in the human heart? And it is not clear to scientists what role it plays: it may be a sign of a serious problem, but it is likely that it has a useful function.

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Extinction of animals

In any case, a new discovery may help.scientists better understand the structure of the organism of chimpanzees and develop new methods of treating their diseases. The fact is that these monkeys are on the verge of extinction and are included in the Red Book. According to the animal welfare organization Pasa, there are 10 dead per born chimpanzee. And old individuals die due to the aforementioned myocardial fibrosis and other diseases. According to forecasts, by 2054 all chimpanzees on our planet can completely die out.

Chimpanzees once again recall the importance of animal welfare

Therefore, the researchers intend to continuescientific work and reveal the true function of the mysterious bone. If it is a sign of the disease, scientists will be able to try to eliminate its development and thereby save the monkeys life. If the bone, like os cordis in cows, increases the stamina of their hearts, researchers can try to increase its benefit.

To learn more about these amazing primates, I recommend watching the 2012 Chimpanzee documentary.

As stated, the discovery of new bones inorganisms of already well-studied animals are a rarity. But such discoveries by scientists are still being made. For example, in 2019, I talked about how a bone called fabella forms on the back of some people's knees. You can read about how it looks and where it came from in this article.