Dolly the dinosaur’s likely cause of death explained — Analysis

Prehistoric animals suffered an illness similar to the most prevalent avian disease

American scientists discovered the first evidence of possible respiratory infections in an non-avian dinosaur by studying the fossil of Dolly, a long-necked species. 

Named Dolly Parton after the singer, this creature was diagnosed with abnormal bone protrusions and an unusual shape in three of its neckbones, said paleontologists in an article in Scientific Reports on Thursday.

The team, led by Cary Woodruff, director of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, studied the bones using CT imaging and concluded that the protrusions were likely formed as a response to a prolonged infection in the creature’s air sacs. 

“Given the likely symptoms this animal suffered from, holding these infected bones in your hands, you can’t help but feel sorry for Dolly… We’ve all experienced these same symptoms – coughing, trouble breathing, a fever, etc.  – and here’s a 150-million-year-old dinosaur that likely felt as miserable as we all do when we’re sick,”Woodruff made the statement in a statement.

Researchers are not able to determine the exact source of the infection. Scientists note that it’s difficult to diagnose dinosaur diseases using only bone and soft tissue.

However, they believed that aspergillosis was the cause. This is the most serious respiratory disease in birds. It can also lead to bone infections and even death if it’s not treated.

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Dolly died from the illness at the age of 15 to 20 years. The possibility exists that the disease developed in the area where the dinosaur lived.

Montana’s 1990 discovery of the fossil (including the spine and skull) was the first to make it public. The fossil was approximately 18 meters in length and was a diplodocid herbivore. They are 150 million years old. 

Research has previously shown that cancer could be caused by injuries to dinosaurs. 

Woodruff’s team expressed hope that further investigations will allow them to improve their understanding of what illnesses affected dinosaurs, to get a better understanding of their physiology and to trace and understand modern medical conditions. 

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