domingo, 9 de junio de 2013

Bone Tumor Found in Neanderthal Rib

A cancer thought common to modern humans is now discovered in the fossil remains of a Croatian Neanderthal.
For the first time, a bone tumor has been found in a Neanderthal rib bone dated to about 120,000 years ago. The rib was recovered at a site near Krapina in present-day Croatia. 
The tumor, a form of cancer called fibrous dysplasia, predates previous evidence of such by more than 100,000 years. Prior to this, the earliest known bone cancers were detected in samples approximately 1,000-4,000 years old. Fibrous dysplasia in modern-day humans occurs more frequently than other bone tumors, but study author David Frayer of the University of Kansas says that the evidence for cancer almost never shows up in the human fossil record. This may be partly due to the fact that the fossil record accounts for a comparatively small sampling of human species or human ancestors.
Nevertheless, says Frayer, "This case shows that Neandertals, living in an unpolluted environment, were susceptible to the same kind of cancer as living humans."
Also, scientists have suggested from previous research that Neanderthals had average life spans that were likely half those of modern humans in developed countries, and were exposed to different environmental factors. The study concludes, "Given these factors, cases of neoplastic disease are rare in prehistoric human populations. Against this background, the identification of a more than 120,000-year-old Neandertal rib with a bone tumor is surprising, and provides insights into the nature and history of the association of humans to neoplastic disease."
The detailed research report is published in the June 5th issue of the open access journal, PLOS ONE .

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