Dinosaurs also suffered from cancer, Belgian scientists discover
Share article:
Share article:

Dinosaurs also suffered from cancer, Belgian scientists discover

"Diseases look the same independent of what critter is affected." Credit: Wikipedia.

Sauropods – the largest dinosaurs that have ever lived on Earth – were also prone to develop bone diseases such as cancer, according to new research conducted by two Belgian universities.

Researcher scientists from VUB and the University of Liège revealed the findings in an article published in the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions B.

By studying these bone samples, the team, led by Benjamin Jentgen-Ceschino, PhD student at ULiège, concluded that cancer and other tumoral and infectious conditions are not recent pathologies.

Studying a bone sample from cf. Isanosaurus of the Lower Jurassic (about 200 million years ago), researchers discovered no growth was beyond the development of fine spicules on the external surface of the bone, meaning that the animal died soon after.

These spicules are typically associated with malignant bone tumours and therefore correspond to the hypothesis of the development of malignant bone cancer in this individual. 

A second sample – this time from a Spinophorosaurus – which showed similar growths seemed to show that some may have survived the disease.

This could be a reaction to a benign tumour or a viral infection, explained Jentgen-Ceschino, “but the rest of the skeleton of this specific individual also has several other pathologies, indicating that the Spinophorosaurus specimen studied here suffered several times different types of trauma during his life,” he added.

“This study also shows that many fossil pathologies have probably gone unnoticed until now,” concluded Valentin Fischer (ULiège).

The bones had previously been harvested by Koen Stein, a palaeontologist at the VUB and co-author of the study, Belga reports.

“When I harvested these dinosaur bones in 2008 for my doctoral research on bone growth in sauropods, I noticed that they had aberrant bone tissue, I never had time to describe and analyze them in detail,” said Stein.

 “It is thanks to the meticulous work of Benjamin, who analysed dozens of medical and veterinary cases, that the team succeeded in narrowing the list of potential causes of these diseases,” he added. 

Previous work by radiologist Bruce Rothschild of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown also showed certain dinosaurs could get the disease.

“Diseases look the same independent of what critter is affected,” explained Rothschild.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Maggots show Conings may have lived longer following disappearance
Former army soldier Jürgen Conings, whose disappearance in mid-May resulted in a month-long manhunt, may have been alive for longer than has been ...
Pandora Papers: European Parliament describes UK and US as global hubs for money laundering and tax evasion
The European Parliament adopted on Thursday a resolution taking the European Commission to task for not doing enough to combat money laundering, tax ...
Museum Night Fever returns to Brussels on Saturday night
After a break last year, Museum Night Fever 2021 is back again with free visits to 29 museums hosting performances, music and other events. The ...
More than 100 people hospitalised with coronavirus per day
More than 100 people are being hospitalised per day in Belgium as a result of the coronavirus, as the rise in new Covid-19 infections continues its ...
Digital well-being: being healthy in a hyperconnected world
There was hardly any doubt about the direction that digital innovation was moving in, but whilst the pandemic restricted human contact and slowed ...
Belgian Health Minister wants pharmacists to administer vaccines
Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has said he wants to change Belgium's law to allow pharmacists to administer Covid-19 vaccines against, ...
Ruined photos from flood victims restored for free
Much of what victims of this summer’s deadly flooding lost is irreplaceable, but when it comes to photographs that were ruined, a Brussels company is ...
New Belgian video game aims to help children who stutter
A new video game by Belgian-American start-up Say It Labs aims to teach children with a stutter various techniques to improve their speech.  ...
More than 1 in 4 Belgians use mobile phones whilst driving
A recent European study into the use of mobile phones whilst driving highlights some alarming results: 26% of Belgians read or send messages on their ...
Belgium in Brief: Memories Of Masks
Belgium's experts are concerned with the rising coronavirus figures. One possible solution could be that, once again, masks are used more widely. ...
More than €1.5 billion injected into SNCB
More than €1.5 billion in additional funding has been injected into the Belgian railways, Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet told the House ...
Non-vaccinated applicants no longer welcome at ZNA hospitals in Antwerp
The Antwerp hospital group ZNA is only taking on new employees who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to reporting from VRT. ...