Science News

Dinosaurs Had Back Problems Too, By the Look of It...

Sat, 13th Oct 2001

Part of the show Skin Problems, Acne and Dermatology - Naked Scientists

Fossil experts have unearthed some very strange facts about Sue - the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered, according to New Scientist this week. A post mortem examination tells us that Sue survived a whole host of injuries and illnesses during her lifetime - so she was either very tough or had help from another dinosaur ! Sue was absolutely enormous - she was 40 foot long and weighed 6 tonnes. You might think a monster that size would have quite an easy life - but not in Sue's case! Several of her ribs showed signs of healed up fractures, so she must have survived some massive blows to her body. She also had bony lumps, called osteophytes, on her vertebrae (the bones that make up the spine), which show that she had back problems not unalike arthritis seen in humans - so it's not just people that get back problems! Her jawbones were also riddled with holes - like swiss cheese - so she must have had some nasty infections, although she survived them. It sounds rather grim - you could almost feel sorry for her! But don't feel too bad, because she may have been looked after - one expert is sure that she couldn't have survived so many injuries and illnesses without help from another dinosaur, probably its mate.
Experts still don't know exactly why Sue died and its possible that she simply died of old age.
Fossilised dinosaur footprints show that large dinosaurs could run.

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