Paper No. 76-12
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
AN ENIGMATIC TUMOR-LIKE STRUCTURE IN A DINOSAUR BONE
Clear and distinct evidence of cancer in the fossil record is rare, but it is not unheard of. Several documented instances of what appear to be tumors have been found in the bones of dinosaurs. Like us, dinosaurs were complex living creatures with rapidly dividing cells, and were therefore subject to the diseases inherent to such a body plan, cancer among them. We believe that we have found one such instance of Mesozoic cancer—a tumor-like structure approximately 2 inches across—in the vertebra of a dinosaur from the Morrison Formation in Colorado. The vertebra is likely that of a sauropod, a member of the classic long-necked, long-tailed herbivores of the Jurassic. The specimen in question shows clear signs of abnormal bone structure and coloration. We will compare the fossil with tumors found in living animals, coupled with a microscopic examination of the bone structure, to support our hypothesis that this is indeed a bona fide example of Mesozoic cancer.