An illustration showing a young dwarf duck-billed dinosaur. Photo Credit: Mihai Dumbrav
Hailing it as the first ever, a fossilized facial tumor on a dinosaur has been uncovered that dates back to between 69 and 67 million years ago, according to an article on UPI.com.
The growth, identified as an ameloblastoma, which is a benign type of growth that is commonly found in the jaws of humans, mammals and reptiles, belonged to a Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus, one of the earliest duck-billed dinosaurs.
A news release quoted researcher Kate Acheson, a PhD student at the University of Southampton as saying, “This discovery is the first ever described in the fossil record and the first to be thoroughly documented in a dwarf dinosaur. Telmatosaurus is known to be close to the root of the duck-billed dinosaur family tree, and the presence of such a deformity early in their evolution provides us with further evidence that the duck-billed dinosaurs were more prone to tumors than other dinosaurs.”
Discovered in an area known as the Hateg Basin in western Romania, the fossilized specimen was incomplete, making it impossible to determine how the young hadroasur died, but researchers suspect the tumor on the reptile’s face may have played a part in its demise.
Researcher Zoltán Csiki-Sava, who led the team that first discovered the fossil, explained, “We know from modern examples that predators often attack a member of the herd that looks a little different or is even slightly disabled by a disease. The tumor in this dinosaur had not developed to its full extent at the moment it died, but it could have indirectly contributed to its early demise.”
Dr. Csiki-Sava, added, “”It was obvious that the fossil was deformed when it was found more than a decade ago but what caused the outgrowth remained unclear until now.”
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, called hadrosauroids “ecologically important,” during the middle-t0-Late Cretaceous, the period of time in which these dinosaurs were alive.