Dinosaurs appear in the imagination as forces of nature, but a new study that identifies the first known cancer case among the creatures shows that they also suffered from the debilitating disease.
A severely malformed Centrosaurus leg bone that was unearthed in the Alberta, Canada wasteland in 1989 was originally considered a healed fracture by paleontologists.
However, a new study of the growth under the microscope and using a technique that was also used in cancer treatment in humans revealed that it was actually a malignant tumor.
“The discovery of cancer makes dinosaurs more real,” Mark Crowther, co-author of the study, told AFP.
“We often think of them as mythical creatures, robust and trampling around, but (the diagnosis shows) they suffered from diseases just like humans.”
The results were published in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology.
Most cancers occur in soft tissues that are not well preserved in fossil records, noted Crowther, a dinosaur enthusiast and chair of McMaster University’s medical school in Canada.
“Strangely, it looked a lot like human osteosarcoma under the microscope,” he said.
“It is fascinating that this cancer existed tens of millions of years ago and still exists today.”
Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that affects about three in a million people every year.
“Just part of life”
In this horned herbivore, which lived 76 to 77 million years ago, he metastasized the giant lizard and probably limped, the researchers said in the study.
But neither the late-stage cancer nor a predator trying to prepare a meal from slow and weak prey have probably killed him.
Since his bones were discovered with more than 100 others from the same herd, it is more likely that they all died in a sudden disaster like a flood and that the herd protected the lame dinosaur from this disaster and prolonged his life.
Lead researchers Crowther and David Evans, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and their team searched hundreds of samples of abnormal bones at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta to find the bone with a tumor about the size of an apple .
The team also used high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scans, a multidisciplinary diagnostic technique used in cancer treatment in humans.
Crowther said dinosaurs were likely to have a higher risk of osteosarcoma for adolescents with fast-growing bones because they grew very quickly and tall.
“Regarding the biology of cancer,” he said, “you often hear about environmental, nutritional, and other causes of cancer. If you find a case from more than 75 million years ago, you realize that it’s only part of life . “
“You have an animal that has certainly not smoked (one of the main causes of cancer in humans) and that shows that cancer is not a new invention and is not solely related to our environment.”
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)