​Loch Ness Monster Dinosaur Had Arthritis

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May 16, 2012

Loch Ness Monster Arthritis

A Loch Ness monster type dinosaur called a Pliosaurus had its 150 million-year-old fossilized bones uncovered in 1994, and a new study of it leaves researchers believing it suffered from an arthritis like disease.

The pliosaur would have been an aquatic carnivore that lived in what is now southern England, which would have had a climate much like today’s Florida at the time. It had a giant crocodile shaped head, whale-like body and four large strong flippers to help catch prey. The descriptions of the infamous Loch Ness monster often resemble this dinosaur.

“This pliosaur, like many of its relatives, was truly huge,” researcher Michael Benton, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Bristol in England, told LiveScience. “To stand beside its skull and realize that it is 3 meters long, and massive and heavy as it is, that it once functioned with muscles and blood vessels and nerves, is amazing. You can lie down inside its mouth.”

A most-recent examination of the remains indicated that this particular specimen likely died from the arthritis it was inflicted with.

Scientists believe that the degenerative condition likely eroded the joint in its left jaw joint knocking it out of whack.

“In the same way that aging humans develop arthritic hips, this old lady developed an arthritic jaw and survived with her disability for some time,” researcher Judyth Sassoon at the University of Bristol told LiveScience. “But an unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke.

“With a broken jaw, the pliosaur would not have been able to feed, and that final accident probably led to her demise.”

“To see the jaws distorted out of place substantially enough that the front tips of the jaws overlapped, and the lower teeth made definite holes in the upper jaw, 5 centimeters (2 inches) off to the side, and that it lived with this agonizing pain for so long, evidently still managing to feed, is quite impressive,” Benton wrote in an email. “This was an old, weather-beaten animal when it died.”