It's an amazing discovery that could better help scientists understand the evolution of this unique species.
Scientists believe they have uncovered something amazing in Romania: the first fossilized facial tumor, and they found it on a duck-billed dinosaur.
It is an ameloblastoma, a benign growth often found in the jaws of both reptiles and mammals, including humans, but it has never been found among fossilized animals until now, according to a University of Southampton statement.
The facial growth was found in a specimen of Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus, a duck-billed dwarf dinosaur. The presence of such a deformity early in the duck-billed dinosaur family tree provides more evidence that this type of dinosaur was more prone to tumors than other types of dinosaurs.
The fossil is between 69 and 67 million yaers old, in the very late cretaceous period. It was found ina geopark in western Romania.
While the facial growth was benign, it’s possible that this adolescent hadrosaur died partially because of the tumor. Predators will often target a member of the heard that looks a little different or may appear disabled by disease, so a facial tumor may have been enough for this dinosaur to stand out int he wrong way.
“This discovery is the first ever described in the fossil record and the first to be thoroughly documented in a dwarf dinosaur,” Kate Acheson, a PhD student at the University of Southampton, said in the statement. “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 tumours than other dinosaurs.”
“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,” added Dr Zoltán Csiki-Sava of the University of Bucharest, Romania, who led the field trip which uncovered the fossil. “In order to investigate the outgrowth, our team was invited by SCANCO Medical AG in Switzerland to use their Micro-CT scanning facilities and to ‘peek’ un-intrusively inside the peculiar Telmatosaurus jawbone.”