A Rare Case Of Arthritis In Dinosaur Identified By Scientists

Posted: Aug 3 2016, 10:35pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 3 2016, 10:43pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

A Rare Case of Arthritis in Dinosaur Identified by Scientists
Credit: University of Manchester

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The duck-billed dinosaur, who lived 70 million years ago, was suffering from painful condition called septic arthritis

Dinosaurs also suffered from chronic diseases like modern-day animals and humans.

Recently, a combined team of researchers from University of Manchester and University of Massachusetts have diagnosed a painful condition in a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed the Earth 70 million years ago.

Using 3D X-ray imaging, researchers have found evidence of septic arthritis in the dinosaur- a crippling disease which is caused by bacteria and is commonly observed in humans, birds and crocodiles. Septic or infectious arthritis affected the elbow joint of the dinosaur and covered it with a strange bony growth, leading to a fused joint. The arm of the dinosaur was being crippled by arthritis, suggesting the animal was experiencing extreme pain ever since it got the disease.

"The condition would have made it almost impossible for the animal to move its elbow, making it look a bit like the hobbling pigeons you see today. It's almost humbling to think that the same conditions that affect the pigeons on the street might have also affected their impressive dinosaur relatives.” Lead author Dr. Jennifer Anné from University of Manchester said in a statement.

Finding a fossil remain bearing the signature of a disease is a rarity and even rarer is finding it in a dinosaur. Dinosaurs used to have so strong metabolisms that they could recover from infections and injuries that would likely kill most of the animals today.

The specimen was found in what is now southern New Jersey. Like many fossils discovered in this site, this specimen is also extremely fragile and could crumble into dust anytime. Therefore, it was impossible for the researchers to use any tool or instrument for dissecting the fossil. Thanks to the micro-CT scanning facilities at Harvard University's Center for Nanoscale Systems, researchers were able to study the internal condition of the dinosaur without any damage.

"By microCTing the specimen, we not only ensured an accurate diagnosis of the pathology, but also the preservation of the specimen for future scientific studies.” Co-author Dr Brandon Hedrick said.

New Jersey is an archeological site that has yielded many scientifically significant fossils before and the latest discovery also provides more insight into the diseases experienced by the animals millions of years ago.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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