Tuberculosis in the Triassic

Very few infectious diseases leave their traces on your bones. This is a problem for palaeontologists because only bones tend to get fossilised, and soft tissues are vanishing rare in the geological record. Even when these are preserved they're extremely unlikely to reveal signs of any infection the animal might have suffered. Therefore very few... Continue Reading →

Neanderthal Surfer’s Ear

I've blogged about Neanderthal ear's recently as a paper had suggested they might have been at increased risk of ear infections, but it turns out that might not be the only ear problem Neanderthal's faced. Earlier this year (2019) a paper was published discussing an unusual feature of Neanderthal skulls. It's been known for a long... Continue Reading →

An Ancient Case of Paget’s Disease

A new study has identified a potential case of Paget’s disease in the bones of a 298 million year old lizard-like animal. The results come from a study of two fused tail vertebrae recovered from a fossilised cave system in Richards Spur, Oklahoma, USA. Today Paget’s disease is a relatively rare condition, which mainly effects... Continue Reading →

A Tale of Two Parasites

Parasites are fascinating. We might tend to think of them as cunning free-loaders, slowly sucking the life out of their unsuspecting victims but the truth is often far more nuanced and bizarre. Modern parasites can permanently alter minds, castrate their victims to make them more useful, even replace their host's tongues, all just to get... Continue Reading →

9,000 Year Old Ritual Decapitation

Occasionally in the life of some archaeologists there must come moments when they feel like they are excavating the aftermath of a particularly gruesome horror movie. The recent discovery of a severed head and hands from east-central Brazil is a case in point. The research was performed by an international team, led by researchers from... Continue Reading →

Exploding Ichthyosaurs?

Sometimes truth can be grosser then fiction. Take the fossil record of the Posidonienschiefer Formation of Germany for example. Its best known for its beautiful preservation of many early Jurassic aged vertebrates, particularly a large number of Ichthyosaurs. The particularly striking thing about some of the formation's Ichthyosaurs though is that many are apparently females,... Continue Reading →

What Killed the Berezovka Mammoth?

It isn't often that palaeopathology enters popular culture but then mammoths have long fascinated humanity. Perhaps it is because our ancestors actually lived alongside them, or maybe it is the existence of such beautifully preserved examples, often with intact hair and skin, that has given us such an intimate glimpse of these prehistoric mammals. A... Continue Reading →

The Parasite that Killed a T-Rex

There are few dinosaurs quite as iconic as Tyrannosaurus Rex. At 12 metres long and up to 6 metres tall it was a ferocious apex predator, using its estimated 57,000N bite force to easily kill and eat the large herbivores of the day. Now you might expect that such a feared predator is going to... Continue Reading →

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