from the world's big
A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.
- The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
- After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
- The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
Centrosaurus apertus fibula
Royal Ontario Museum<p>In the recent study, the team used a combination of techniques to analyze the fibula, including taking CT scans, casting the bone and studying thin slices of it under a microscope. The analysis suggested that the dinosaur likely suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that affects modern humans, typically young adults.</p><p>For further evidence, the team compared the damaged fibula to a healthy fibula from a dinosaur of the same species, and also to a fibula that belonged to a 19-year-old human who suffered from osteosarcoma. Both comparisons supported the osteosarcoma diagnosis.</p>
Evans et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The shin bone shows aggressive cancer at an advanced stage," Evans said in a <a href="https://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/rare-malignant-cancer-diagnosed-in-a-dinosaur" target="_blank">press release</a>. "The cancer would have had crippling effects on the individual and made it very vulnerable to the formidable tyrannosaur predators of the time."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The fact that this plant-eating dinosaur lived in a large, protective herd may have allowed it to survive longer than it normally would have with such a devastating disease."</p><p>The fossilized fibula was originally unearthed in a bonebed alongside the remains of dozens of other <em>Centrosaurus </em><em>apertus</em>, suggesting the dinosaur didn't die from cancer, but from a flood that swept it away with its herd.</p>
Dinosaur fibula; the tumor mass is depicted in yellow.
Royal Ontario Museum/McMaster University<p>The new study highlights how modern techniques can help scientists learn more about the evolutionary origins of modern diseases, like cancer. It also shows that dinosaurs suffered through some of the same terrestrial afflictions humans face today.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dinosaurs can seem like mythical creatures, but they were living, breathing animals that suffered through horrible injuries and diseases," Evans said, "and this discovery certainly makes them more real and helps bring them to life in that respect."</p>
The impact might have triggered the Ice Age.
- A new study examined data on lunar craters to gain a better understanding of ancient impact events on Earth.
- Although scientists know of some ancient impacts on Earth, weather and erosion makes it hard to study impacts that occurred beyond 600 million years ago.
- Studying craters on the moon can provide some clues.
Chicxulub impact crater
NASA<p>In a new study published in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17115-6" target="_blank">Nature Communications</a>, a team of researchers examined data collected by Japanese Space Agency's lunar orbiter Kaguya. The team determined that a massive asteroid shower hit the Earth-Moon system about 800 million years ago, when Earth's early multicellular animals were just undergoing their first splits.</p><p>This catastrophic event likely occurred after an asteroid 62 miles in diameter was disrupted and struck both the moon and Earth. The total mass of the shower was far greater than that which created the Chicxulub crater, and it might've triggered the ice age, according to the researchers.</p>
Eight lunar craters that were likely formed simultaneously.
Terada et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...it is not strange that an asteroid shower 800 million years ago might have triggered the Ice age, because a total mass flux 800 million years ago is 10 -100 times larger than those of Chicxulub impact and/or a meteoroid shower 470 million years ago," Kentaro Terada, lead study author and professor at Osaka University in Japan, told <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/21/world/moon-earth-asteroid-shower-scn/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a>.</p><p>By measuring the density of the smaller lunar craters that lie inside bigger ones, the team determined that eight of the moon's 59 craters likely formed at the same time. NASA data supports this hypothesis. In 1969, the Apollo 12 mission collected lunar samples ejected from the 58-mile-wide Copernicus crater. The samples were estimated to be 800 million years old.</p>
Terada et al.<p>Although no complex animals would've been around to witness the impact on Earth, the asteroid shower could've brought elements to Earth that "influenced marine biogeochemical cycles" and caused "severe perturbations to Earth's climate system and the emergence of animals," the authors wrote.</p><p>Catastrophic impacts like these are extremely rare, occurring only once every 100 million years or so. In modern history, the most recent major impact was likely the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event" target="_blank">Tunguska event</a>, which occurred in Eastern Russia in 1908 when a meteor blitzed through the atmosphere and exploded, leveling some 80 million trees over 830 square miles, possibly killing several people.</p>
Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.
- Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
- Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
- The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
Batrachopus grandis, an ancient crocodylomorph, may have chased down land prey on its own two feet.
Walking the walk<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM5MjIyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDM5NDYxN30.vSptOKk7U7Vi6UGUrVSrlDZDA0KE27a4Hi506qS7_MQ/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C145%2C0&height=700" id="4984d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ca91bf364c9dcf5752919b5105bbcb2f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A photograph of Batrachopus grandis track impressions found at Jinju Formation." />
A photograph of Batrachopus grandis track impressions found at Jinju Formation.
An evolving understanding<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="bM8XiiEp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="217e12c49e7fd202232637b5487313ba"> <div id="botr_bM8XiiEp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/bM8XiiEp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/bM8XiiEp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/bM8XiiEp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>For now, the only evidence for <em>Batrachopus grandis</em> exists in the footprints, so there's still much to learn about it. In the study, the researchers note the possibility that this crocodylomorph didn't take to the land but used its hind legs to propel itself through waterways.</p><p>Not all paleontologists agree with the study's conclusions. Phil Manning, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester, who was not part of the research, <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53011567" target="_blank">told the BBC</a><u> </u>he found the trace fossils interesting but didn't think a crocodilian was capable of producing them.</p><p>"Look at any videos of living crocs and the rotation of their feet when they're galloping: it's outwards, not inwards towards the midline of the trackway. Just from their orientation, it looks more like some kind of dinosaurian track-maker to me. But whether it's a croc - unfortunately, we just don't have the fossil bones to tell us," he said.</p>
Plenty of crocs in the fossilized sea<p>If you had your heart set on a land-roaming, bipedal crocodile, don't be disappointed. The ancient world was filled with enough strange and eerie crocodylomorphs to fill many a nightmarish menagerie.</p><p>In 2015, for example, paleontologists discovered a crocodile relative in North Carolina. This 9-foot-long apex predator also walked on two feet and ruled its Pangaean stomping grounds until the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event ended its reign. Paleontologists christened this species <em>Carnufex carolinensis</em>, or the "<a href="https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/newly-discovered-bipedal-crocodile-ancestor-terrorized-pre-dinosaur-world" target="_blank">Carolina Butcher</a>."</p><p>There's also evidence for crocodiles that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qruxOVmSfyY" target="_blank">snatched sauropods from the water's edge</a>, crocodiles that bounded through ancient forests <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmdcewIjXi0" target="_blank">on hooves</a>, and crocodiles that enjoyed <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-crocodiles-would-have-ordered-salad-180972518/" target="_blank">leafy flexitarian diets</a>. Even their modern relatives continue to surprise us, such as their <a href="https://www.wired.com/2014/02/crocodiles-can-climb-trees/" target="_blank">surprisingly agile tree-climbing abilities</a>.</p><p>So while these ancient creatures may be extinct, they continue to evolve in our imaginations. We'll have to see what science has in store for <em>Batrachopus grandis</em> as we discover more about it. </p>
These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.
- Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
- Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
- It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
Desperate times call for cannibalism<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cc909d1235ba9e4e5149f7e3580c8568"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Y2ODPFiksBE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While scavenging and even cannibalism is relatively common among today's predators, the Allosaurus probably didn't eat their peers as a staple meal. According to Stephanie Drumheller, the study's lead author, they were likely driven to turn to cannibalism as a last resort when times were scarce in food supply. </p> <p>"Big theropods like Allosaurus probably weren't particularly picky eaters, especially if their environments were already strapped for resources.'' said Drumheller, a paleontologist in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-05/p-ise052120.php" target="_blank">in a statement</a>. "Scavenging and even cannibalism were definitely on the table."</p><p>The Mygatt-Moore Quarry is home to thousands of dinosaur bones dating back to the late Jurassic period, somewhere in the ballpark of 150 million years ago. When the quarry was at its prime, it was thriving with lush vegetation making it a cushy home for many large dinosaur species, including the long-necked lizard <a href="https://www.livescience.com/25093-apatosaurus.html" target="_blank">Apatosaurus</a>. The new study suggests, however, that at some point this dino sanctuary fell on some hard times, which forced local carnivores to scavenge for bits of meat from the picked-over carcasses of dead dinosaurs.</p>
Study Findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NDg4MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODAxOTMzOX0.X586xL4Ci-v4fwAaKZJAf7QOp7EANWKy9ScFV49l-us/img.png?width=980" id="992a1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acecfb3761e4e8b41e02b29bfd62452c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Fig 4. Dry season at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry showing Ceratosaurus and Allosaurus fighting over the desiccated carcass of another theropod.
Illustration by Brian Engh (dontmesswithdinosaurs.com)<p>The researchers examined the bite marks on 2,368 dino bones from the quarry. Noting the width, depth, and pattern of the bite marks, the team was able to trace the chomp marks on the prey back to specific dinosaur species. Of those bones, 684, or 29 percent, were marked with at least one theropod bite. Many of those marks were imprinted by serrated teeth, suggesting to the researchers that Allosaurus (the most common theropod among the quarry's fossils) did a majority of the biting.</p><p>Allosaurus tended to feast mostly on herbivores. Yet, 17 percent of their bite victims were other theropods. That included some fellow Allosauruses, making this the first solid chunk of evidence of cannibalism in the species; a deliciously novel discovery. Interestingly, however, most of the bite marks that the scientists examined didn't appear to be killing wounds. More than half of all bite-marks found on the victim were on bony parts with little meat like fingers, toes and spinal columns. Not exactly the cut of meat a hunter with first-dibs would choose, suggesting that they were scavenging for the bare scraps. </p><p>Ultimately, these fossils tell a miserable story of dinosaurs down on their luck, left with no choice but to scrounge for measly scraps of meat off their own kin's rotting carcasses. </p>