Carboniferous Cancer

Centrosaurus apertus
300 Million Years Before People

Cancer is an OLD disease! Even the dinosaurs were not free of cancer.

Cancer can be traced all the way back to some of the very first vertebrate animals - fish living in the Carboniferous period.1  In 2020, a group of researchers using computed tomography (CT) was able to confirm the first case of osteosarcoma in a dinosaur. The cancer was found in a bone from a plant-eating dinosaur (Centrosaurus apertus; skull shown in the image) that lived about 76 million years ago. The animal suffered from the aggressive bone cancer, but it is not believed that the cancer killed this particular dinosaur.2

  • 1Moodie, R. (1927). TUMORS IN THE LOWER CARBONIFEROUS. Science (New York, N.y.), 66(1718), 540. (Original work published December 1927) [PUBMED]
  • 2Ekhtiari, S., Chiba, K., Popovic, S., Crowther, R., Wohl, G., Wong, A., et al. (2020). First case of osteosarcoma in a dinosaur: a multimodal diagnosis. The Lancet. Oncology, 21(8), 1021-1022. (Original work published December 2020) [PUBMED]