Brazilian Paleontologists Find ‘Zombie Dino’

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Those who watched the animated series Primal must remember the episode “Plague of Madness” – even historically and palentogically incorrect, she was right about one thing: “zombie dinos” existed, and the discovery came from three Brazilian researchers.

Authors of the work published on the last 15th in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, the three scientists from the federal universities of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and São Carlos (UFSCar) and more from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) discovered, by the bones of a titanosaur, that he suffered from an extremely painful acute bone infection and that attacks both animals and humans, called acute osteomyelitis.

The finding of paleobiologist Aline Ghilardi, co-author of the study, started from the bones with “spongy lumps” that she studied for her postdoctoral research. She and paleontologist Tito Aureliano, the study’s lead author, examined the 80 million-year-old fossils using a tomography and found the disease.

The research’s originality rests on the next step: paleontologist Fresia Ricardi-Branco, now part of the research group, performed a biopsy on the fossilized tissue, finding a microfossil within the vascular channels of the dinosaur bone. Aureliano, in the light of this discovery, found more than ten fossilized microorganisms.

Zombie Dino

“When we discovered that there was a parasite inside the bones of the dinosaur, we were nervous: we do not believe that they had ever done a biopsy on a fossilized bone,” Aureliano told the G1 portal. The researchers, however, do not know whether the parasites caused osteomyelitis or whether they arose because of the disease. A colony of bacteria was also found in the fossil.

For the paleontologist, “Titanosaurus felt a lot of pain until he died. He was rotting alive. The stage of the disease was so advanced that we call this specimen ‘Dino Zumbi’ “. According to him, if a parallel is made of how the disease evolves today, the animal should have open wounds expelling pus through the legs, head and trunk.