There are many reports of cetaceans with deformed and twisted bodies. Skeletal pathology descriptions have shown changes to axial skeletons because of injury, trauma, or disease. We present a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) that shows characteristic patterns of congenital skeletal deformity, including malformed vertebrae, ribs, and sternum. These malformations were consistent with segmentation and formation defects arising during early embryonic development, with a resulting cascade of deformity and compensatory pathology. In spite of severe deformities, the dolphin lived 18 yr, raised two calves, and likely would have lived longer had she not succumbed to sepsis and the piercing of the aorta caused by a stingray barb.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4