Broken and healed tibiotarsus of a bird

Broken and healed tibiotarsus of a bird

Jan 24, 2012
Pathologic bird bone still in the ground
Pathologic bird bone cleaned and ready to be cataloged

Among the recent discoveries at Project 23 is this exquisite left tibiotarsus (shin bone) of a large bird of prey, probably a Golden Eagle. This is no ordinary shin bone, however. As you can see, the asphalt has preserved something from the life history of this bird — a healed compound fracture in the middle of the bone. This paleopathology also shows evidence of massive infection. The interesting thing to note is that this broken leg did not kill this animal since it lived long enough to show extensive healing. There are lots of examples of healed injuries and evidence of diseases preserved in the bones at the La Brea Tar Pits — just one more reason why this collection is so special.

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