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dinosaur also had cancer . This is the conclusion reached by a study published in “The Lancet Oncology” and conducted by a team from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and McMaster University. The research has found and diagnosed a bone cancer malignant aggressive , an osteosarcoma, which would be the first discovered in a dinosaur. Have not been previously documented malignant cancers (tumors that can spread throughout the body and have serious health consequences) in this type of prehistoric giants.

The bone involved is the fibula (bone of the lower leg) of Centrosaurus apertus , a dinosaur that lived a 76 to 77 million years . Originally discovered in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta in 1989, it was thought in the beginning that the end malformed to the fossil represented a fracture healing. To observe the unusual properties of the bone in the Museum at the Royal Tyrrell in 2017, Mark Crowther , professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and several colleagues decided to investigate further the case. Gathered a team of specialists in different disciplines such as pathology, radiology, orthopedic surgery, and paleopathology.

“The diagnosis of aggressive cancer like this in the dinosaurs has been difficult and requires medical expertise and multiple levels of analysis in order to identify it properly,” explains Crowther-. Here, we show the unmistakable signature of bone cancer advanced in a dinosaur with horns of 76 million years, the first of its kind. is very exciting “.

Comparison between thin sections of the shin-cancerous (left) and the shin normal dinosaur’s horned Centrosaurus apertus. The fossils were sectioned thin to compare the microstructure of the bone and to adequately diagnose the osteosarcoma – Royal Ontario Museum / McMaster University

After examine, document, and carefully craft the bone, the team made a ct scan (TC) of high resolution. Then cut finely the bone fossil and examined under a microscope to evaluate the cellular level of the bone. We used a powerful tool for three-dimensional reconstruction by CT to visualize the progression of cancer through the bone. Using this rigorous process, the researchers came to a diagnosis of osteosarcoma .

To confirm this diagnosis, we compared the fossil with a fibula normal of a dinosaur of the same species, as well as with a fibula human with a confirmed case of osteosarcoma . So they discovered that the fossil specimen is a dinosaur, an adult with an advanced stage of cancer that may have invaded other organs of the body. But the disease was not what killed him: his remains were found in a tomb, a mass of bones, which suggests that he died next to a large herd of Centrosaurus due to a flood.

The tumor mass is at the top of the bone, and can be seen in the 3D reconstruction in yellow, red gray is the normal bone and red denotes medullary cavity. – Royal Ontario Museum / McMaster University

“The shin bone shows aggressive cancer in an advanced stage. The disease would have had devastating effects on the individual and what would have made you very vulnerable to the predators of the time,” explains David Evans , professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at the ROM and expert in this kind of species of dinosaurs. “The fact that this herbivore lived in a large herd protective may have enabled it to survive more than the normal time with a disease as devastating”.

osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that usually occurs in the second or third decade of life. Is an excessive growth and disorganized bone that spreads rapidly in the bone to other organs, usually the lung.

This study aims to set a new standard for the diagnosis of diseases is not clear in the fossils of dinosaurs and open the door to assessments more accurate and safe. The establishment of links between human disease and the diseases of the past will help scientists better understand the evolution and genetics of various diseases. The evidence of many other diseases that we share with the dinosaurs and other extinct animals may still be present in other museum collections that need a new point of view to be examined.

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