Scientists detect cancer in prehistoric amphibian 

Marek Zajdler / East News

An interdisciplinary, international research team, led by Dr Dawid Surmik from the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Silesia in Katowice, has provided further significant evidence of cancer in Earth’s ancient past.

In a paper published in BMC Ecology and Evolution, the scientists presented the results of a study of a vertebra of the Triassic amphibian Metoposaurus krasiejowensis, discovered in Krasiejów near Opole. A lump was identified on one of the vertebrae, which overgrew a large part of it. The researchers, in collaboration with the Departmental Computer Microtomography Laboratory of the University of Silesia, used X-rays to study the internal structure of this fossil.

The scans revealed that the pathological tissue was not only encasing the vertebra from the outside, but was also penetrating into its interior, breaking into the bone through the natural nutrient channels present in the vertebra. At this point, it became clear that the cause of the growth was a malignant tumour.

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Medicine and biotechnology