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Palaeontology

Evidence of flu-like illness found in sauropod dinosaur

February 11, 2022 | Comment icon 3 comments



Dinosaurs were not immune to illness. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Gerhard Boeggemann
Respiratory infections are not unique to modern times - even the dinosaurs fell ill from time to time.
It's perhaps hard to imagine a gigantic, long-necked dinosaur the length of three double-decker buses coughing and sneezing - yet according to a new discovery, it's something that could and did happen.

The find focuses on a fossil sauropod nicknamed 'Dolly' which was found in what is now Montana.

The animal, which lived during the Jurassic period between 201.3 million and 145 million years ago, was found to have misshapen structures in its neck bones.

This, palaeontologists argue, is evidence of a raging respiratory infection which more than likely also resulted in its untimely demise at around 15 to 20 years old.
"The fact that we had these weird structures at that junction where the respiratory hose connects into the vertebrae - that was a really good point in cuing us to the fact that this might be respiratory-related," said lead study author Cary Woodruff.

While it remains unclear precisely what illness the dinosaur had, in all likelihood it would have produced coughing and sneezing symptoms like those we experience when we have the flu.

"You can hold that fossil of Dolly in your hand and know that 150 million years ago, that dinosaur was feeling as crummy when it was sick as you do when you're sick," said Woodruff.

"I personally don't know of any fossil I've interacted with where I've been able to empathize and feel for the animal as much."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (3)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by OpenMindedSceptic 4 months ago
Putting the SARS in sauropod.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Tatetopa 4 months ago
I sympathize.  I contracted an Aspergullis  infection 40 years ago. So far nothing has been able to get rid of it.  I presume I got it from tree bark working near a debarker.   It is also transmissible from birds to humans.  I met another patient who contracted it that way.   Sadly I found out he died after a couple of years.   For dinos, I suspect it would slow them down and weaken them.  It would seem likely they would fall to predation before the disease killed them.   
Comment icon #3 Posted by Orphalesion 4 months ago
Just imagine a huge animal like a sauropod coughing and sneezing (like that scene in Jurassic Park) or having a sore throat with a neck like that! Plus they probably had no way of seeking relief from their symptoms.


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