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Sick dinosaurs get new study
From: Ben Creisler firstname.lastname@example.org
A news story from Australia:
Fiercest dinosaur had sore points
Leigh Dayton, Science writer
June 22, 2005
THE baddest, boldest dinosaurs on the block were sickly
beasts, frequently with unsightly sores, tumours and other
signs of disease.
This unflattering view of Tyrannosaurus rex and its fellow
Tyrannosauridae - including Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus
and Gorgosaurus - comes after an in-depth check-up of the
pits, ridges and gouges preserved in the fossilised jaws
of 56 of the two-legged meat-eaters.
Nearly 30 per cent of the jaws were abnormal, said Ewan
Wolff, a paleontologist with Montana State University in
"We think of T-rex as an incredibly hardy predator, but it
got sick a lot more than we thought," said Mr Wolff, who
studied the telltale remains as part of his doctoral
thesis with paleontologist David Varricchio.
Moreover, Mr Wolff said the big beasts got sicker more
often than related species of the time, including
crocodiles. Their remains show evidence of disease in
about one in 100 cases.
It's too early to know precisely what sort of disease
ravaged the scarred dinos, who lived 80 million to 65
million years ago, but it might have been triggered by
poor diet, said Mr Wolff, who will present his findings in
Cairns next week at the Wildlife Disease Association's
He said the tyrannosaurid bones showed evidence of healed
injuries, possibly obtained during fights.
"Researchers have talked about some form of head-biting
behaviour among tyrannosaurids," he said.
In Brisbane, University of Queensland paleontologist Steve
Salisbury agreed a deficient dino diet might have led to a
systemic illness that caused the abnormalities found by Mr
"It looks a little bit like the type of disease you get in
birds that relates to vitamin D or calcium deficiency
which softens the bone," he said.
"Maybe they weren't eating enough bones."