The Telmatosaurus individual discovered almost a decade ago in Transylvania displayed the first fossil tumor in the history of living organisms. An international team of British, Romanian, and US researchers published the results of the tumor analysis.
The hadrosaur was a large terrestrial herbivore with a jaw that looks like a duck. The animal was common in the Upper Cretaceous all over the five continents. The dinosaurs were facultative bipeds, as the young generation mostly stayed on two legs, and the adult ones walked on four.
The fossil tumor is a non-cancerous facial formation that is common in humans, mammals, and modern reptiles.
As the Telmatosaurus is one of the oldest species of hadrosaur, the presence of the deformity shows that this type of animals was more sensitive to disease.
The hadrosaur fossil was discovered in the Romanian Dinosaurs Geopark from Transylvania. It was approximated to be 67-69 million years old. The discovery took place more than a decade ago, and even if then it was clear that the dinosaur had a deformity, no one knew until now what caused the outgrowth.
The analysis was performed in a Switzerland laboratory which had a Micro-CT scan that permitted scientists to analyze the fossil tumor in a non-invasive way.
The results of the scan showed that the dinosaur suffered from ameloblastoma, a benign tumorous growth that affects the jaws of several mammals, including humans.
One expert in ancient diseases said the discovery might prove that humans and dinosaurs have much more in common, as we develop the same neoplasias. The scientists expected to find disease of the bone in the Hateg dinosaurs, but they were amazed to discover a modern tumor.
The dinosaur was not supposed to feel any pain due to the apparition of the outgrowth. However, the fossil tumor had an impressive size which made the researchers conclude that the animal might have died before becoming an adult.
As the fossil was found near the channel of an ancient river, the scientists didn’t expect to retrieve a complete outline of the hadrosaur. Such a site never helps preserve a fossil in full condition.
The explorers discovered only the two lower jaws of the dinosaur, which leaves the cause of death to be a mystery.
The leading author of the study said it is possible that the Telmatosaurus became a victim of a predator, as they usually attacked members of the herd that looked different or were physically challenged.
The fossil tumor was not developed to its full size, which means that it most probably didn’t cause the death of the dinosaur. However, its presence might have attracted predators.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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