STL Science Center

STL Science Center

12 January 2016

Papers and Cancers

Important papers about dinosaurs always exist and we usually start out each Tuesday mentioning that there are a lot of important papers out on whatever taxon we are discussing that week. This week that is exceedingly true. After looking at the important papers that tell us more about the anatomy and phylogeny of Gilmoreosaurus we should be able to discuss where the animal rests in the family tree. This description can be augmented by a slightly older description by Weishampel and Horner that also gives us an accurate picture of the contemporaneous fauna of the formation, such as was known in 1986. Having an up to date faunal assemblage is important for understanding animal behaviors and relationships between predators, prey, and symbiotic groups (regardless of their position along the scale from parasitic to mutualism). The most interesting study, in my opinion, is a widely focused study on evidence of tumors in dinosaur fossils. Tumors can be caused by cancers, benign or malignant. In an older context tumor could refer to any swelling, but Rothschild, et al 2003 was concerned specifically with abnormal vertebral tissue growth in dinosaurs. An examination of some Gilmoreosaurus remains provides evidence for cancerous growths. There is a great deal more discussion on the discovery, but one really ought to read this for themselves and draw their own conclusions of validity on the study. Imagine being able to diagnose dinosaur cancer as a cause of death from fossils though!

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