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Chicago Museum T-Rex Killed by Throat Infection

Wired reports that a breed of Trichomonas, a microbe commonly found in pigeons, may have killed off Sue and many other tyrannosaurids, too. Citing Paleontologist Ewan Wolff of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues who claim evidence from modern predatory bird species show that the protozoan parasite could have formed lesions along the tyrannosaur mandible, eroding the bone away and preventing the huge dinosaur from eating. Without food, the T-Rex starved to death.

Holes in bones were originally thought to be bite marks but Wolff points out that there are "innumerable disease you could list that cause holes in bones that have nothing to do with bite wounds."

Wolff goes on to say that there are three pieces of evidence to suggest these holes were not made by teeth. First, they're not obviously tooth-shaped but nicely circular or ovoid. Second, there's no scrape marks surrounding the holes themselves, and third they don't come in rows or groups.

“We’re definitely familiar with what predation traces look like from tooth marks in tyrannosaurus,” Wolff said. “And this is not it.”

Could the T-Rex have been taken out by a throat infection? Wolff goes on to say that they found evidence in predatory birds that trichomonosis can cause holes in the mandible resemble holes found in the mandibles nine tyrannosaurid specimens.

Check out the full story on Wired.

As a side note, does this remind anyone else of the man-flu clip from Man Stroke Woman? I know Sue was a female dinosaur but man, even chick dinosaurs seem manly enough to not be brought down by a throat infection.