Canadian researchers have for the first time diagnosed a dinosaur with a sore throat and flu-like symptoms, according to media reports Friday.
The dinosaur, named after country and western singer Dolly Parton for reasons that are unexplained, was found in Yellowstone National Park in Montana in 1990, but the diagnosis is new.
“So, it’s cool that you can hold that 150-million-year-old bone from Dolly and you literally know how crummy that dinosaur felt when it was sick,” said Cary Woodruff, a recent graduate from the University of Toronto.
He and a team of researchers studied Dolly remains and found she might have died a premature death at around 20-years-of-age due to the first known case of bird-like lung disease diagnosed in a dinosaur.
“What we had in Dolly was very consistent with respiratory infections that are found in birds,” Woodruff said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “It was very, very similar to a respiratory disease that birds get from breathing in fungal spores.”
The infection migrated to the bones from the lungs, based on CatScan X-ray-like imaging that showed irregular protrusions consisting of unusual bone that could have been formed by infection, Woodruff said.
In Dolly’s case, a sore throat was really a sore throat. The skeletal remains paint a picture of a dinosaur that was 60 feet long, weighed 5.5 tons and its neck was “very long,” he said, adding that Dolly “would have needed a heck of a lot of lozenges” to soothe the ache.
“If you could hop in that time machine and go back to when Dolly was alive with this infection, you would have very clearly, evidently been able to see that this was a very, very sick animal,” Woodruff said.
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