February 11, 2022 | 0 comments
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.”