It goes without saying that reading about the Loch Ness Monster’s jaw arthritis isn’t exactly the sort of news this subject usually develops. But scientists studying stout-necked dinosaurs just like the Loch Ness Monster have found that they develop jaw arthritis.
Although they’re not making the news section too often, scientists that are still researching dinosaurs, fossils and extinct creatures have a breakthrough every now and then. Paleontologists studying a fossil of a pliosaur, an extinct marine reptile, have reached the conclusion that they were looking at a dinosaur suffering from a disease very similar to arthritis.
Michael Benton is a vertebrate paleontologist with the University of Bristol, in England. He explained LiveScience that the pliosaur and other huge stout-necked dinosaurs had huge jaws that could easy ripped apart a lot of other animals. The pliosaur his team was investigated had 8 inches (20 centimeters) long teeth and presented signs of jaw arthritis, an aspect that seems to be quite exciting in the world of paleontology.
The fossil is 150 million years old and was found by Simon Carpenter in 1994. From that point on, the 3 meters long pliosaur fossil has been kept at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. This particular fossil gave scientists a moment of excitement as they noticed traces of arthritis in its left jaw joint. According to their conclusions, the pliosaur would have experienced, just like humans do, weakness and even loss of the jaw.
Researcher Judyth Sassoon, also with the university of Bristol, said: “The most exciting aspect of this research for me is the arthritic condition, which has never been seen before in these or similar Mesozoic reptiles”.
She also explained that the pliosaur managed to survive with the arthritis for some time, however, Sassoon adds, “an unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke”. This means, the dinosaur couldn’t have been able to feed, which eventually lead to death.
Michael Benton added that the arthritis traces can be seen even in today’s animals. For instance, crocodiles and sperm whales can survive for years with the condition, but the feeding gets more challenging as the pain increases.