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Tyrannosaurus rex

GOUT FOUND ON T. rex HANDS

T. rex shoulder and armsFossilized signs of gout, a painful metabolic disease, have been found in T. rex hands.

As reported in the journal Nature (May 23, 1997), a team led by Bruce M. Rothschild (ROTHSCHILD, B.M., TANKE, D. and CARPENTER, K., Tyrannosaurs suffered from gout. Nature, vol 387, p 357) of the Arthritis Center of Northeast Ohio in Youngstown Ohio found a T. rex (named Sue) with the disease gout in the finger bones (metacarpals I and II) of its right hand. Sue was a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex found in Hell Creek, South Dakota, USA.

While examining the cast of fossilized T. rex fingers, Bruce M. Rothschild found "bubbles" in the cast that were indications of gout lesions. Since the ownership of the fossil, Sue, was in dispute, further examination was impossible (Sue was impounded by the FBI). Rothschild found more lesions on another tyrannosaur hand bone (either Gorgosaurus or Daspletosaurus, which predate T. rex by about 10 million years) from at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada. This specimen was found by Darren Tanke at the Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.

Gout is a disease in which the body generates excess uric acid. This chemical (which a is a waste by-product) crystallizes and then erodes and forms lesions on bones and joints. This disease causes swelling and can be very painful. Gout is caused by a diet high in purine, a substance found in red meat, which T. rex surely ate. Other causes of gout are drinking too much alcohol or lead poisoning. Sue's gout may have been exacerbated by dehydration or kidney (renal) failure. Gout has been found in many reptiles (including crocodiles and alligators), birds, and people.




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