76-million-year-old dinosaur diagnosed with bone cancer

76-million-year-old dinosaur diagnosed with bone cancer

PanARMENIAN.Net - Scientists say they have, for the first time, found that dinosaurs suffered from osteosarcoma -- an aggressive malignant cancer that afflicts humans today, CNN reports.

Earlier evidence showed that like humans, dinosaurs got sick. T. rex may have suffered from gout, duck-billed dinosaurs had bone tumors and many species would have scratched at lice.

When a lower leg bone or fibula from a horned dinosaur called Centrosaurus apertus that lived 76 to 77 million years ago was unearthed in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, in 1989, the malformed end of the fossilized bone was originally thought to be a healing fracture.

But a more detailed analysis, using modern medical techniques that approached the fossil in the same way as a diagnosis in a human patient, revealed that it was osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that in humans today usually occurs in the second or third decade of life.

It's an overgrowth of disorganized bone that spreads rapidly both through the bone and to other organs, including most commonly, the lung.

The team analyzing the fossilized bone included professionals from diverse fields including pathology, radiology, orthopedic surgery and paleopathology -- the study of disease and infection in the fossil record.

The bone was examined, cast and CT scanned before a thin slice of the bone was studied under the microscope. Then, powerful three-dimensional reconstruction tools were used to visualize the progression of the cancer through the bone. The investigators ultimately reached a diagnosis of osteosarcoma.

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