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PhD graduate finds evidence of respiratory illness in dinosaur fossil: Canadian Press

(Artwork by Corbin Rainbolt)

Even dinosaurs can catch the flu and experience symptoms like coughing, sore throat, sneezing, high fever and headaches, according to a new study led by University of Toronto PhD graduate Cary Woodruff.

Woodruff and a team of researchers identified the first evidence of a respiratory illness in a dinosaur fossil they nicknamed after country singer Dolly Parton, according to a Canadian Press report published in The Globe and Mail“What we had in Dolly was very consistent with respiratory infections that are found in birds,” Woodruff told the Canadian Press. “It was very, very similar to a respiratory disease that birds get from breathing in fungal spores.”

The fossil contained misshapen structures in the dinosaur’s neck bones, which indicates that the infection traveled from the lungs to the bones. The study was recently published in Scientific Reports.

“If you could hop in that time machine and go back to when Dolly was alive with this infection, you would have very clearly, evidently been able to see that this was a very, very sick animal,” said Woodruff, who believes the infection contributed to the animal’s death.

Read more in the Globe and Mail

February 11, 2022

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