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GOUT IN TYRANNOSAURS



So excited was I by the description of _Unenlagia_ that I neglected to mention
an item of further interest in the latest _Nature_. Most of you will now be
aware of it via the media and so on..

ROTHSCHILD, B.M., TANKE, D. and CARPENTER, K. 1997. Tyrannosaurs suffered from
gout._Nature_ 387: 357.

Yes, its official - gouty lesions have been identified on tyrannosaurid
phalanges. They are identifiable as erosional spheroidal lesions (the authors
are able to successfully discount all other possible explanations) and were
found in Sue's right arm (on both metacarpals I and II) and on a pedal proximal
phalanx from another tyrannosaur from Dinosaur Provincial Park. Out of 83
specimens, this was the only one that had the gouty lesions.

Gout is 'a metabolic disorder in which urate crystals accumulate as space-
occupying masses, producing monarticular spheroidal erosions in bone'. It is
suggested that 'ingestion of foods with a high purine content' could be
responsible for the condition, and purines are common in red meat. Rothschild,
Tanke and Carpenter report that gout has previously been observed in varanids,
chelonians (including _Testudo_), _Alligator_, _Crocodilus_ and _Tupinambis_
(tegus). Its occurrence in carnivorous dinosaurs may therefore have been
predictable. How cool though, that 'Caricatures of the agony and ill-temper of
those afflicted with gout are magnified by its recognition in _Tyrannosaurus
rex_'. A _T. rex_ with a permanent bad temper - - not so cool if you're a
hadrosaur (or another tyrannosaur?).

"Release your anger, only your hatred can destroy me"

DARREN NAISH