Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Dinosaurs 'shrugged off injury'

Giant meat-eating dinosaurs such as Allosaurus were a hard bunch capable of taking punishment as well as dishing it out, academics have found

Giant meat-eating dinosaurs were a hard bunch capable of taking punishment as well as dishing it out, research suggests.

A study indicates they had an ability to shrug off injuries that would prove fatal to humans.

Scientists used synchrotron-generated X-rays to analyse the chemical structure of a foot bone from Allosaurus, a two-legged carnivore that lived 150 million years ago.

They found evidence of unusual injury-healing marked by the selective distribution of zinc in bone rebuilding areas.

Lead researcher Dr Phil Manning, from the University of Manchester's School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said: "Using synchrotron imaging, we were able to detect astoundingly dilute traces of chemical signatures that reveal not only the difference between normal and healed bone, but also how the damaged bone healed.

"It seems dinosaurs evolved a splendid suite of defence mechanisms to help regulate the healing and repair of injuries. The ability to diagnose such processes some 150 million years later might well shed new light on how we can use Jurassic chemistry in the 21st century."

The research appears in the Royal Society journal Interface.

Co-author Jennifer Anne, also from the University of Manchester, said: "Bone does not form scar tissue, like a scratch to your skin, so the body has to completely reform new bone following the same stages that occurred as the skeleton grew in the first place.

"This means we are able to tease out the chemistry of bone development through such pathological studies.

"It's exciting to realise how little we know about bone, even after hundreds of years of research. The fact that information on how our own skeleton works can be explored using a 150-million-year-old dinosaur just shows how interlaced science can be."

Allosaurus, the top predator of its time, lived long before Tyrannosaurus rex and scientists do not believe the two were related.

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