Phil R. Bell and Rodolfo A. Coria
Paleoepidemiology (the study of disease and trauma in prehistoric populations) provides insight into the distribution of disease and can have implications for interpreting behavior in extinct organisms. A monospecific bonebed of the giant carcharodontosaurid Mapusaurus (minimum number of individuals = 9) from the Cañaadón del Gato site, Neuquén Province, Argentina (Cenomanian) provides a rare opportunity to investigate disease within a single population of this important apex predator. Visual inspection of 176 skeletal elements belonging to a minimum of nine individuals yielded a small number of abnormalities on a cervical vertebra, two ribs, pedal phalanx, and an ilium. These are attributed to traumatic (two cases), infectious (two cases) and anomalous (one case) conditions in a minimum of one individual. The emerging picture for large theropod (abelisaurids, allosaurids, carcharodontosaurids, tyrannosaurids) populations suggests that 1) osseous abnormalities were relatively rare (7–19% of individuals) but consistently present, and 2) trauma was a leading factor in the frequency of pathological occurrences, evidence of an active, often perilous lifestyle.
Bell, P.R. and Coria R.A. 2013. Palaeopathological Survey of a Population of Mapusaurus (Theropoda: Carcharodontosauridae) from the Late Cretaceous Huincul Formation, Argentina. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63409. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063409.