Sore Throat May Have Axed T Rex

Trichomonosis still affects modern birds and makes eating almost impossible
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
The head of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Tyrannosaurus rex could have been laid low not by a planetwide dinosaur holocaust or vicious infighting, but by a parasite that still affects modern birds. Researchers have taken a close look at lesions on T. rex fossils once presumed to be battle scars and concluded that they are the work of trichomonosis, a parasite that ravages a bird’s mouth and throat, making eating tricky. A similar infection could have starved the ancient carnivore to death.

Paleontologists had thought the holes in the T. rex’s jaws were injuries from battles between the dinosaurs, but the new research suggests they resemble trichomonosis lesions much more than puncture wounds. Evidence of the disease is found only in T. rex fossils, notes LiveScience.