Fossilized Remains of ‘Dolly’ Provides First Evidence of Respiratory Infection in Dinosaur

Researchers have discovered the first evidence of dinosaur respiratory infection, using the fossilized remains of a young diplodocid – a large, herbivorous sauropod dinosaur with long neck. 

Fossilized skeleton of dinosaur

(Photo : CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)

Examination of the Specimen Discovered in Southwest Montana

The specimen was discovered in southwest Montana, US, dating back to the Late Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era. The fossilized dinosaur was dubbed ‘Dolly.’ A lot of experimental procedures and research have been carried out on this specimen.

During the examination of the cervical vertebrate, which is on the neck, Cary Woodruff of the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, along with his colleagues carrying out the research, spotted an abnormal protrusion on the cervical vertebrae.

This strange bony protrusion had an unusual shape and texture. It was spotted on each bone and could penetrate the air-filled sacs, which are ultimately connected to the lungs, 

Woodruff said: “Given the likely symptoms this animal suffered from, holding these infected bones in your hands, you can’t help but feel sorry for Dolly. “We’ve all experienced these same symptoms-coughing, trouble breathing, a fever, etc. – and here’s a 150-million-year-old dinosaur that likely felt as miserable as we all do when we’re sick,” according to

This discovery might be related to the Dolly’s respiration problem due to the location of the protrusion, and researchers even suggest the respiratory problem might have led to the protrusion found.

Also Read: Scientists Unearthed Fossils That Reveal the Longest Dinosaur That Ever Lived

What May Have Caused the Dolly’s Respiratory Infection?

The infection might have spread to the air-filled sac after causing a protrusion. It is still under research as scientists stated that it might be a fungal infection just like aspergillosis, that affects birds and reptiles respiratory systems, leading to bone infections just like the infection detected in the dinosaur.

The infection is somehow closely related to the aspergillosis. In that case, the dinosaur might have experienced similar symptoms of this fungal infection like the flu or pneumonia-like symptoms such as weight loss, coughing, fever, and breathing difficulties.

 Aspergillosis infection is caused by Aspergillus, a common mold (a type of fungus) that lives indoors and outdoors. It is quite a deadly infection even to humans as it can affect not only the lungs but other areas of the body such as the sinuses leading to Fever, facial pain, and headache.

The fossilized skeleton of a dinosaur

(Photo : CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)

Understanding Diseases in Dinosaur

If this respiratory infection in the birds and reptiles is related to the infection found in the dinosaur then it might have been the cause animal’s death, according to ABC News.

“This fossil infection in Dolly not only helps us trace the evolutionary history of respiratory-related diseases back in time, but gives us a better understanding of what kinds of diseases dinosaurs were susceptible to,” Woodruff said.

This first evidence found might be a revolutionary change in animal anatomical studies as Woodruff, the research team and other researchers including paleopathologist/veterinarian, Ewan Wolff (University of New Mexico), a veterinarian, Sophie Dennison (TeleVet Imaging Solutions, Oakton, Va.) and so many others investigate more on this infection and how it might be related to the death and probably the extinction of these animals.

Related Article: Scientists Finally Unlock Dinosaur DNA

For more news, updates about dinosaurs and similar topics don’t forget to follow Nature World News!

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