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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spinal disease in larger species. Maladies spinales chez especes geantes.

Pathology exists in every species, including extinct ones. That's right, dinosaurs had diseases and modern science can be used to study them (called paleopathology). Can you imagine a T-Rex with a fractured tibia? One whip from the tail of a brachiosaur would likely do it. Osteomyelitis (bone infection) was likely common in those species having survived a deep bite from an enemy. Modern molecular biology techniques were used to sequence protein sequences in a 68-million-year-old T-Rex and showed that out of all extant (not extinct!) species, they most closely relate to chickens, adding proof that these gynormous ancient lizards were most closely related to birds, not reptiles! While I am lucky I don't have to treat Archaeopteryx for a broken wing, I find this field of study absolutely mesmerizing
Here there is bony proliferation on the spine of a dinosaur, likely a result of chronic infection or a tumor. This ancient creature must have suffered terribly.