Saturday, August 22, 2020

Cancer in a Dinosaur

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Paleontology, Earth Science, Earth Systems, Geology, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Give or take a few years, 76 million years before present, a Centrosaurus, living in what is now Canada was roaming the land with a malignant tumor in its lower leg. It has now been diagnosed as an osteosarcoma and is the firs time that cancer has been confirmed in a dinosaur. Benign tumors have been identified in Tyranoaurus rex fossils. The identified tumor could have been fatal, but evidence from the site where it was found suggested that it died in a flood with the rest of the herd.

This diagnosis required a team of scientists and physicians as science reporter for the journal Science, Gretchen Vogel writes, "'Scientists, including paleontologists, pathologists, a surgeon, and a radiologist, examined the full fossil with high-resolution computerized tomography scans and examined thin sections under the microscope to evaluate the structure of the cells. They found that the tumor was advanced enough that it had probably plagued the animal for some time."

It is a short read and includes two images of the diseased bone. The original paper was published in the medical journal, The Lancet Oncology (paywall, abstract available).

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