Respiratory infections are as old as the world, scientists have discovered after examining the fossils of a dinosaur that lived 150 million years ago. About it writes National Geographic with reference to a study in the journal Scientific Reports.
The skeleton of a herbivorous lizard from the diplodocid family, nicknamed Dolly, is one of the exhibits of the Montana Dinosaur Museum. Dolly was discovered in the state 30 years ago - she lived here at the end of the Jurassic period. Once again examining the fossils, the museum paleontologist noticed strange growths resembling broccoli on the cervical vertebrae. Puzzled by the find, he posted about it on social media, and other scientists responded to his message. The unusual growths of the dinosaur were similar to the formations that modern birds have, suffering from respiratory infections. The dinosaur was given an MRI of the bones of the neck, and she confirmed the hypothesis.
The abnormal growths were located in the part of the neck where the air sacs, part of the dinosaur's respiratory system, were attached, and could have formed as a reaction to an infection. Perhaps this infection was akin to aspergillosis, an inflammation or infection of the air sacs caused by bacteria, fungus, or viruses. Aspergillosis occurs in horses, cattle, deer, monkeys, but birds are most susceptible to it under natural conditions. If left untreated, aspergillosis is deadly. There is a possibility that he also killed Dolly: despite its size and 50 tons of weight, the lethargic, sneezing, snotty animal could lag behind the herd of relatives and become easy prey for predators.
This case is the first evidence of a respiratory infection in dinosaurs and proof that animals have been carrying disease from the very beginning of evolution.