A rare disease among children is discovered in a 66-million-year-old dinosaur tumor

A rare disease among children is discovered in a 66-million-year-old dinosaur tumor

A rare disease that still affects humans today has been found in the fossilized remains of a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed the Earth at least 66 million years ago.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University noticed unusual cavities in two tail segments of the hadrosaur, which were unearthed at the Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta, Canada.

They compared the vertebrae with the skeletons of two humans who were known to have a benign tumor called LCH (Langerhans cell histiocytosis), a rare and sometimes painful disease that affects children, mainly boys.

“Diagnosing diseases in skeletal remains and fossils is complicated as in some cases different diseases leave similar marks on bones. LCH, however, has a distinctive appearance that fit to the lesions found in the hadrosaur,” said Dr. Hila May, head of the Biohistory and Evolutionary Medicine Laboratory, at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

The researchers used advanced, high-resolution CT scans to analyze the dinosaur tail fossils.

“New technologies,such as the micro CT scanning, enabled us to examine the … structure of the lesion and reconstruct the overgrowth as well as the blood vessels that fed it,” May told CNN.

“The micro and macro analyses confirmed that it was, in fact, LCH. This is the first time this disease has been identified in a dinosaur,” May said.

In humans, LCH is sometimes described as a rare form of cancer but May said that there are different opinions among experts as to whether it is definitively a cancer or not because in some cases its passes spontaneously.

“Most of the LCH-related tumors, which can be very painful, suddenly appear in the bones of children aged 2-10 years. Thankfully, these tumors disappear without intervention in many cases,” she said.

Hadrosaurs would have stood about 10 meters high and weighed several tons. They roamed in large herds 66 to 80 million years ago, the study, which published this week in the journal Scientific Reports said.

Dino diseases

Like us, dinosaurs got sick but evidence of disease and infection in the fossil record — a field known as paleopathology — has been scant.

However, there is evidence that tyrannosaurids, like the T-Rex, suffered from gout and that iguanodons may have had osteoarthritis. Cancer has proved more difficult for paleopathologists to diagnose but there is evidence that dinosaurs would have suffered from the disease, the study said.

Studying disease in fossils, independent of the species, is a complicated task. And it is even more complicated when dealing with those of animals that are extinct as we do not have a living reference, May explained.

The authors said the finding could help further evolutionary medicine — a new field of research that investigates the development and behavior of diseases over time.

Given that many of the diseases we suffer from come from animals, such as coronovirus, HIV and tuberculosis, May said understanding how they manifest themselves in different species and survive evolution can help find new and effective ways to treat them.

“When we know that a disease is independent of species or time, it means the mechanism that encourages its development is not specific to human behavior and environment, rather [it’s] a basic problem in an organism’s physiology,” May said.

There is no custom code to display.

Blogs

The National Media has discovered the Chad and Lori Daybell story

The National Media has discovered the Chad and Lori Daybell story

BLOG: The National Media has discovered the Chad and Lori Daybell story   By Rick Worthington 2/12/2020   The Daybell/Vallow saga continues, and it’s going to get even more crazy and messy than it already is. It’s already pretty crazy, because 2 kids are still missing and several other people connected to the Daybell couple…

Guest Blog Rep. Priscilla Giddings – Axe The Tax On Groceries

Guest Blog Rep. Priscilla Giddings – Axe The Tax On Groceries

Government is an over-achiever in collecting taxes on nearly everything we do. It’s hard to imagine anything in our everyday life that is not taxed. We are taxed for our homes, our property, our cars, our purchases, our earnings, our investments, and even after death. This year Idaho has a great opportunity to eliminate taxes…

Guest Blog – Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb & Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking – A Big Step for Early Childhood Education in Idaho

Guest Blog – Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb & Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking – A Big Step for Early Childhood Education in Idaho

Great news for Idaho parents and students regarding Early Childhood Education. Thanks to the successful collaboration of a bi-partisan committee of stakeholders convened over the summer and the support of Governor Brad Little, Idaho is the recipient of a $3.3 million Federal Preschool Development Grant. After attending an early education learning summit through Hunt Institute,…