Disease found in 66-million-year-old dinosaur tail that still affects humans today

Israeli researcher says find is a world first 

‘This is the first time this disease has been identified in a dinosaur,’ said lecturer Dr Hila May
‘This is the first time this disease has been identified in a dinosaur,’ said lecturer Dr Hila May

A disease which still affects people today has been discovered in the fossilised tail of a dinosaur that lived over 66 million years ago.

The discovery came after a tumour was found in the vertebrae of a young dinosaur which had been unearthed in Alberta, Canada.

Following a micro-CT scan of the tail in Tel Aviv, Israeli researchers created a reconstruction of the tumour.

They identified the disease as Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), which is a rare condition that is sometimes classified as a cancer.

According to the NHS, LCH is an “unusual condition” which displays “some characteristics of cancer.”

It is also recognised as a cancer by the National Cancer Institute, a US government agency.

Dr Hila May, a lecturer in anatomy and anthropology at Tel Aviv University, said large cavities in two sections of the dinosaur’s vertebrae were “extremely similar” to those produced by LCH.

Dr May said that further analyses confirmed it was LCH, adding: “This is the first time this disease has been identified in a dinosaur.”

The researchers think their findings could help the study of evolutionary medicine, which looks at the behaviour and development of diseases over time.

Israel Hershkovitz, also of Tel Aviv University, said: “We are trying to understand why certain diseases survive evolution with an eye to deciphering what causes them in order to develop new and effective ways of treating them.”

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