Fossilised dinosaur vertebra showing a tumour, United States, Triassic Age

Made:
251 million years ago – 199.6 million years ago in Arizona
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Fossilised sacro-candal dinosaur vertebra showing the earliest known tumour, from Arizona, USA, triassic

Disease has a very long history on Earth. Dating from the Triassic era – approximately 200 to 251 million years ago – this fossilised dinosaur vertebrae is an extraordinarily early example of a tumour. It is thought to be a form of arthritis, where the soft tissue hardens around bone.

The fossil was excavated in Arizona, USA, between 1860 and 1920. The bone was originally in the collection of Roy Moodie (1880-1934), an American paleopathologist who studied prehistoric disease.