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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Jurassic Arthritis Was a Jawbreaker
15 May 2012 6:00 pm
Few things could slay a giant beast wielding teeth the size of kitchen knives, but a new discovery reveals that arthritis was one of them. Scientists examined the massive, pointy jaw of an ocean-dwelling pliosaur (artist's conception, right), a whale-sized reptile with a head like a crocodile, and concluded that the animal suffered from a degenerative joint condition that likely proved fatal. The disease wore away the left jaw hinge (left) of this 8-meter-long behemoth, causing its lower jaw to hang askew. The crooked-mouthed animal kept on biting, living long enough for its misaligned 20-centimeter-long teeth to etch grooves into the jawbone. But signs of an unhealed fracture indicate that the jaw eventually snapped apart, rendering the animal unable to feed, scientists report today in Palaeontology. The finding illustrates that the death of ancient beasts wasn't all ferocious battles and doomsday asteroids—they, too, suffered the mundane wear and tear of old age.
See more ScienceShots.