A new paper with free pdf:
The intervertebral disc (IVD) has long been considered unique to mammals. Palaeohistological sampling of 17 mostly extinct clades across the amniote tree revealed preservation of different intervertebral soft tissue types (cartilage, probable notochord) seen in extant reptiles. The distribution of the fossilised tissues allowed us to infer the soft part anatomy of the joint. Surprisingly, we also found evidence for an IVD in fossil reptiles, including non-avian dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and marine crocodiles. Based on the fossil dataset, we traced the evolution of the amniote intervertebral joint through ancestral character state reconstruction. The IVD evolved at least twice, in mammals and in extinct diapsid reptiles. From this reptilian IVD, extant reptile groups and some non-avian dinosaurs independently evolved a synovial ball-and-socket joint. The unique birds dorsal intervertebral joint evolved from this dinosaur joint. The tuatara and some geckos reverted to the ancestral persisting notochord.
How dinosaur research can help medicine
Even Tyrannosaurus rex could have suffered a slipped disc
In German (with additional photos)