This is the first time a dinosaur has been identified to have suffered from cancer.
Scientists have long studied dinosaurs to learn everything we can from the massive animals that once ruled the earth. Researchers have learned that these giant reptiles suffered from many of the same common afflictions we modern humans deal with. Scientists have learned that, along with several other well-known diseases, dinosaurs also endured cancer.
According to Scientific American, Iguanodons suffered from osteoarthritis, several species suffered from infections, and many fossils suggest that dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes suffered and recovered from broken bones. The mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex faced gout, while feathered dinosaurs dealt with pesky lice, and a 66 million-year-old tumor has been found on the fossilized remains of a duckbill—also, the only dinosaur species found to have shown a dental abscess.
Now, researchers have discovered that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, specifically osteosarcoma, which was identified on the fibula of a Centrosaurus apertus—a horned dinosaur that lived about 77 million years ago. A fossil found in Alberta, Canada, in 1989 had a malformed end thought to be a healing fracture. However, as medical technology has advanced, it turns out the growth was cancer, not a healing fracture.
Osteosarcoma is aggressive cancer that's usually found at the end of long bones and produces immature bone. It is the most-common type of cancer found in humans.
The discovery of cancer on a dinosaur bone helps scientists who are researching cancer now and helps them to understand the evolution of the disease.
"It is both fascinating and inspiring to see a similar multidisciplinary effort that we use in diagnosing and treating osteosarcoma in our patients leading to the first diagnosis of osteosarcoma in a dinosaur," said Seper Ekhtiari, study co-author and orthopedic surgery resident at Canada's McMaster University. "This discovery reminds us of the common biological links throughout the animal kingdom and reinforces the theory that osteosarcoma tends to affect bones when and where they are growing most rapidly."
What do you think about this discovery made from an ancient relic? Sound off in the comments.