June 25, 2009 — Many of us have broken bones
in our bodies at one time or another, and when this happens a healing
process begins. The same was true of animals in the past, and has been
well documented in all groups of dinosaurs. But how can we study and
understand the healing process?
A new study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
uses high-resolution computed tomography (CT) imaging to guide sampling
of bone lesions in the vertebrae of a hadrosaur (“duck-billed”)
dinosaur for histological and isotopic analysis.
The detailed sampling made possible by CT imaging allowed scientists
led by William Straight of Northern Virginia Community College to
examine bone mineral deposited in the repair (the callus). This callus
preserves a temperature record of the healing process, a record that
can be measured with stable isotopic techniques. The results
demonstrated that skeletal repair in at least some dinosaurs shows a
combination of reptilian and non-reptilian characteristics. Despite
hadrosaurs not being among those dinosaurs most closely related to
birds, “healing and remodeling rates in our dinosaur bones are similar
to those seen in birds,” says Straight.
Dinosaurs seem to be covered with these healed injuries, much more
so than modern animals of nearly similar size. As Straight muses:
“Quick healing may have offset the consequences of being so large, and
being surrounded by other giant animals, in a Mesozoic school of hard
Source : Society of Vertebrate Paleontology