Could Dinosaur DNA Unlock The Secrets Of The Immune System?

Researchers studying the bones of a 72 million-year-old dinosaur have discovered that the creature had an amazing ability to repair injuries, leading some to speculate that prehistoric DNA may hold the key to incredible healing power.

Scientists were examining the skeleton of a 26 foot high dinosaur called a gorgosaurus, according to MailOnline, when they began to notice the signs of its unusual life. The dinosaur had suffered through several severe injuries leading up to its death, yet wounds that would have killed a human or other mammal weren’t fatal to the dinosaur. The animal had a fracture in its right leg, which was healing at the time of death, and a broken bone in the left leg that had become infected. The dinosaur’s tail had been broken or fused, and its forearm and ribs showed evidence of breaks that were healing as well. As if that weren’t enough, the dinosaur suffered from a bacterial infection that was attacking its jawbone, and may have even been afflicted with cancer. Researchers deduced that it is most likely that the unlucky dinosaur eventually succumbed to a brain tumor, concluding that some of its injuries were brought about by falls.

Phil Manning believes that the dinosaur's injuries prove its healing powers were far beyond those of humans or mammals
Phil Manning believes the injuries sustained by one unlucky dinosaur point to healing abilities that far surpass humans

Despite the astonishing number of injuries, the dinosaur’s skeleton showed many signs that the wounds were healing. Researchers believe that the seemingly powerful immune system of the prehistoric predator may provide clues to cures for a range of illnesses. In order to study it, they are looking toward the dinosaur’s modern-day relatives. They suggest that strains of DNA which allowed dinosaurs like gorgosaurus to fight off a range of diseases and infections may still be present in ancient survivors like the alligator and crocodile.

According to International Business Times, Phil Manning, professor of natural history at Manchester University pointed out the dinosaur’s healing abilities and wide range of injuries, positing that “If we humans were to sustain a similar suite of injuries and disease, we would not live to see another day.” Asserting that studying the dinosaur’s injuries had provided crucial evidence of the animal’s biology, Manning added that “The study of antibodies in the living relatives of dinosaurs, might help develop drugs that aid our own immune systems.”

Dinosaur DNA has usually been relegated to the realms of fiction, central to the plot of the Jurassic Park franchise, the fourth installment of which will be released next year, as The Inquisitr has reported. While it may seem like something out of science fiction, scientists have postulated in the past that dinosaurs possessed highly developed immune systems. If Manning’s findings are able to increase science’s understanding of antibodies, dinosaur DNA may yet help to unlock secrets of the human immune system.

[Images via Wikipedia and MailOnline]