Now the punch line: the infection shows evidence of being caused by the Trichomonosis bacteria which is found in only one other sub-class: birds. Given all of the other palaeontological evidence that the the theropod dinosaurs and Aves share a common ancestry, what are the odds they would share the same kind of infection by chance?
Theories abound on what led to the demise of the Field Museum’s most famous specimen: shortly after the Tyrannosaurus rex was found, some wondered if a series of holes in the back of her massive skull were bite marks suffered during a ferocious battle with another meat-eating dinosaur.
But researchers have honed in on a culprit far smaller: a throat infection caused by a single-celled organism.
Writing in Tuesday’s edition of the online journal of Public Library of Science One, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and elsewhere theorize that the parasitic infection could have led to an autoimmune response that eventually could have led Sue to starve to death 67 million years ago.
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