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School of Medicine




We report an osseous abnormality on a specimen of the sauropod dinosaur Lufengosaurus huenei from the Fengjiahe Formation in Yuxi Basin, China. A gross pathological defect occurs on the right third rib, which was subjected to micro-computed tomographic imaging as an aid in diagnosis. The analysis of pathological characteristics and the shape of the abnormality is incompatible with impact or healed trauma, such as a common rib fracture, and instead suggests focal penetration of the rib, possibly due to a failed predator attack. The identification of characteristics based on gross morphology and internal micro-morphology presented by the specimen, suggests an abscess with osteomyelitis as the most parsimonious explanation. Osteomyelitis is a severe infection originating in the bone marrow, usually resulting from the introduction of pyogenic (pus-producing) bacteria into the bone. Micro-tomographic imaging of the lesion suggests a degree of healing and bone remodelling following post-traumatic wound infection with evidence of sclerotic bone formation at the site of pathological focus, indicating that L. huenei survived the initial trauma. However, as osteomyelitis can express through widespread systemic effects, including a lowering of immune response and overall condition, this disease may have been a contributing factor to the eventual death of the individual.

Source Citation

Xing, L., Rothschild, B. M., Randolph-Quinney, P. S., Wang, Y., Parkinson, A. H., & Ran, H. (2018). Possible bite-induced abscess and osteomyelitis in Lufengosaurus (Dinosauria: sauropodomorph) from the Lower Jurassic of the Yimen Basin, China. Scientific Reports, 8(1).


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