In 2001, a nearly complete sub-adult Tenontosaurus tilletti was collected from the Antlers Formation (Aptian-Albian) of southeastern Oklahoma. Beyond its exceptional preservation, computed tomography (CT) and physical examination revealed this specimen has five pathological elements with four of the pathologies a result of trauma. Left pedal phalanx I-1 and left dorsal rib 10 are both fractured with extensive callus formation in the later stages of healing. Left dorsal rib 7 (L7) and right dorsal rib 10 (R10) exhibit impacted fractures compressed 26âmm and 24âmm, respectively. The fracture morphologies in L7 and R10 indicate this animal suffered a strong compressive force coincident with the long axis of the ribs. All three rib pathologies and the pathological left phalanx I-1 are consistent with injuries sustained in a fall. However, it is clear from the healing exhibited by these fractures that this individual survived the fall. In addition to traumatic fractures, left dorsal rib 10 and possibly left phalanx I-1 have a morphology consistent with post-traumatic infection in the form of osteomyelitis. The CT scans of left metacarpal IV revealed the presence of an abscess within the medullary cavity consistent with a subacute form of hematogenous osteomyelitis termed a Brodie abscess. This is only the second reported Brodie abscess in non-avian dinosaurs and the first documented occurrence in herbivorous dinosaurs. The presence of a Brodie abscess, known only in mammalian pathological literature, suggest mammalian descriptors for bone infection may be applicable to non-avian dinosaurs.
Evan T. Saitta, Renxing Liang, Maggie C.Y. Lau, Caleb M. Brown, Nicholas R. Longrich, Thomas G. Kaye, Ben J. Novak, Steven L. Salzberg, Mark A. Norell, Geoffrey D. Abbott, Marc R. Dickinson, Jakob Vinther, Ian D. Bull, Richard A. Brooker, Peter Martin, Paul Donohoe, Timothy D.J. Knowles, Kirsty E.H. Penkman & Tullis Onstott (2019)
Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities.
eLife 8: e46205
Fossils were thought to lack original organic molecules, but chemical analyses show that some can survive. Dinosaur bone has been proposed to preserve collagen, osteocytes, and blood vessels. However, proteins and labile lipids are diagenetically unstable, and bone is a porous open system, allowing microbial/molecular flux. These âsoft tissuesâ have been reinterpreted as biofilms. Organic preservation versus contamination of dinosaur bone was examined by freshly excavating, with aseptic protocols, fossils and sedimentary matrix, and chemically/biologically analyzing them. Fossil âsoft tissuesâ differed from collagen chemically and structurally; while degradation would be expected, the patterns observed did not support this. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed that dinosaur bone hosted an abundant microbial community different from lesser abundant communities of surrounding sediment. Subsurface dinosaur bone is a relatively fertile habitat, attracting microbes that likely utilize inorganic nutrients and complicate identification of original organic material. There exists potential post-burial taphonomic roles for subsurface microorganisms.