Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

Tech

In a First, Paleontologists Identify Cancer in a Dinosaur Fossil

Published

on

A re-analysis of a shin bone belonging to a horned dinosaur from the Cretaceous period has revealed signs of a malignant tumor, in what’s considered a first for dinosaur paleontology.

Advertisement

Back in 1989, paleontologists in Alberta, Canada, unearthed a 76-million-year-old fibula, or lower leg bone, belonging to Centrosaurus apertus, a four-legged dinosaur from the Cretaceous. Curiously, however, this femur was badly deformed, but scientists didn’t give it much thought, believing the malformation to be caused by a healing fracture.

The fossil came back into focus in 2017 after David Evans, the chair of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and an associate professor at the University of Toronto, along with colleagues, noticed the strange features when viewing the fossil at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta.

Advertisement

Evans’s co-author, pathologist Mark Crowther from McMaster University, had previously predicted that dinosaurs probably got cancer, but he wondered why a convincing case hadn’t yet been found.

“I said that our best shot to find dino cancer was to go to the Royal Tyrrell Museum collections and search through their large holdings of pathological dinosaur bones,” said Evans. “My team recognized that the malformed bone was unusual for a break and needed a closer look.”

Thus began a unique multidisciplinary effort to re-analyze the fossil, a project that included ROM paleontologist Louise Temerty and osteopathologist Snezana Popovic, also at McMaster, which is located in Hamilton, Ontario. The results of their analysis were published today in Lancet Oncology.

Advertisement

Centrosaurus apertus was a four-legged ceratopsian, or horned dinosaur. Reaching some 18 feet (5.5 meters) long, these beasts featured a long horn on their snouts and a short frill adorned with four horns, the top two of which were quite small. As the new research shows, this particular dinosaur, and probably others, were not immune to cancer, specifically osteosarcoma, a serious bone malignancy.

For their analysis, the team evaluated the fossil in a manner reminiscent of how a tumor would be diagnosed in a human patient. The scientists took CT scans of the fossil and examined thinly cut sections under a microscope, which allowed for a cellular-level view of the specimen. Digital 3D modeling tools allowed them to reconstruct the progression of the disease as it ravaged the dinosaur’s femur.

Advertisement

All evidence pointed to advanced-stage bone cancer, but to make sure, the researchers compared the diseased fibula to a healthy version taken from another Centrosaurus apertus fossil, and also to a human fibula with a confirmed case of osteosarcoma. This comparative analysis further affirmed the diagnosis.

“Most cancers are manifest in soft tissues and are very unlikely to fossilize, making this particular specimen very special,” said Evans. “This is the first confirmed case of a malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and one of the only positive diagnoses of this type of horrible disease in the fossil record.”

Advertisement

To which he added: “This remarkable and very rare find shows that no matter how big or powerful some dinosaurs may seem, they were affected by many of the same diseases we see in humans and other animals today, including cancer.”

Advertisement

When asked if something other than a malignant tumor could account for the deformations seen on the fossil, such as the fossilization process itself or gradual deformation of the fossil over time, Evans said it’s unlikely, as the bone’s physical characteristics cannot be attributed to any aspect of the fossilization process.

“The cancerous bone is severely malformed, with a massive gnarly tumor larger than an apple in the middle of the bone,” he said. “In fact, the top half of the bone is missing, and it may have broken in life due the progress of the cancer.”

Advertisement

The CT scans, plus the super thin sections, exhibited the hallmark signs of osteosarcoma on the bone tissue. They showed that the tumor had spiraled through the cortex of the bone, ruling out the original identification of a healed fracture, Evans explained.

With its leg and possibly other bones and organs ravaged by cancer, this dinosaur was likely in bad shape.

Advertisement

“The bone cancer in this dinosaur is at such an advanced stage that it may have spread to other body tissues, such as the lungs, and it’s badly malformed shin would have affected its mobility,” said Evans. “This particular Centrosaurus was likely weakened and lamed by the cancer prior to its death, and likely would have been in pain and slower than it otherwise would have [been.]”

That said, Evans and his colleagues don’t believe the dinosaur died from the disease, as its femur was found in a massive bonebed; this dinosaur, along with many of its herdmates, was probably killed and buried after being washed away in a flood. It’s possible that life in a herd saved it from opportunistic carnivores; hampered by the tumor, the animal would have been particularly vulnerable to predators, including the fearsome tyrannosaurs that prowled Cretaceous Alberta.

Advertisement

This unique finding should now inspire paleontologists to revisit other fossils, which, like this one, may have been originally misinterpreted. It also connects us to dinosaurs in an unexpected way.

Advertisement

“Dinosaurs can seem like mythical creatures, but they were living, breathing animals that suffered through horrible injuries and diseases, and this discovery certainly makes them more real and helps bring them to life in that respect,” Evans said.

Source : Gizmodo Read More

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

Published

on

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

Advertisement

Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

Advertisement


Source

Continue Reading

Tech

Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

Published

on

Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

Advertisement

That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

Advertisement

Grab this offer while it’s still around!


Source

Continue Reading

Tech

Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

Published

on

Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

Advertisement

You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

Advertisement


Source

Continue Reading

Trending