Researchers from the University of Manchester have teamed up with the New Jersey State Museum and the University of Massachusetts to diagnose a dinosaur from the USA with a horrific medical condition.
The prehistoric patient is a Hadrosaur - a duck-billed dinosaur - which seems to have suffered from septic arthritis, a condition seen in modern birds and crocodiles as well as humans. The septic arthritis affected the elbow joint, resulting in a fused joint covered in bony growths.
Paleopathologies - ancient diseases and injuries - are fairly rare in the fossil record. Even rarer are dinosaurs from the East Coast of North America. The combination of both is an extremely significant find, which allows for a look at the harsher side of life for dinosaurs on the eastern seaboard 70 million years ago.
The specimen was found was found in a former New Jersey quarry by David Parris of New Jersey State Museum. Like many fossils from this site, the specimen suffers from a geological condition called pyrite disease which makes it very fragile and can lead to it crumbling into dust. Therefore, the team used the microCT scanning facilities at Harvard University’s Center for Nanoscale Systems to do an internal diagnosis without the need for saws.