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12:51 PM ET 05/21/97

Why T-Rex was so grouchy

         
            (Release at 2 p.m. EDT)
            LONDON (Reuter) - Tyrannosaurus Rex may have raged across
the plains driven by more than ravenous hunger -- it also
suffered painful gout, U.S. scientists reported Wednesday.
            The disease, suffered by human tyrants such as England's
Henry VIII, causes painful joints and grumpy behavior.
            Bruce Rothschild of the Arthritis Center of Northeast Ohio
in Youngstown and colleagues say they found evidence in the
``arms'' and legs of T-Rex that it too had gout.
            The metabolic disorder, which causes crystals of a chemical
known as urate to accumulate in bones and joints, often causes
new bone tissue to form.
            This can hurt, as shown by Victorian cartoons of the portly
and red-faced gout sufferer with big toe bandaged.
            ``Caricatures of the agony and ill-temper of those afflicted
with gout are magnified by its recognition in Tyrannosaurus
Rex,'' Rothschild wrote in a report in the science journal
Nature.
            In humans, gout is usually connected with a fondness for
rich food and drink. Reptiles and birds are also known to get
it.
            T-Rex may not have had access to port or butter, but
certainly ate a lot of red meat -- another known contributor.
         ^REUTER@