Scientists have found signs of respiratory infection in the fossilized remains of a 150 million-year-old dinosaur.
In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists analyzed the remains of a long-necked herbivorous dinosaur nicknamed “Dolly” and noticed something unusual. They found bone deformity in the cervical vertebrae. Curiously, these vertebrae were connected to air sacs, which in turn connected to the dinosaur’s respiratory system.
Computed tomography showed that the abnormal structure in the cervical vertebrae probably formed in response to a respiratory infection. Scientists do not know exactly what kind of infection it was, but they suggested that perhaps it was a fungal infection similar to aspergillosis. Aspergillosis still affects birds and reptiles.
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“Given the likely symptoms this animal suffered from while holding infected bones, you can’t help but feel sorry for Dolly. We all experienced the same symptoms — cough, breathing problems, fever, and so on— and here’s a 150 million-year-old dinosaur that probably felt as miserable as the rest of us when we get sick,” the researchers write.
This is the first evidence of respiratory infection in a non-avian dinosaur. Perhaps it was because of it that Dolly died.
“Regardless of how exactly death occurred, we think that this disease somehow contributed to the death of the animal,” the researchers conclude.
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