Scientists: our ancestors had cancer already 255 million years ago

Scientists: our ancestors had cancer already 255 million years ago© Photo: Dmitry Bogdanov

Unusual growths on the teeth gorgonopsid, «saber-toothed» zoroastro, indicate that our ancestors and their close relatives had suffered from cancer for at least 255 million years ago, paleontologists claim in an article published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

«Up to this point, the most ancient example of the development of the tumor in the body of a mammal were the remains, petrified about a million years ago. This group of scientists discovered an example of the development of cancer in the ancestors of mammals lived on the Earth 255 million years ago. This indicates that cancer is a relatively «new» thing for animals,» — commented on the opening of Judy Skog (Judy Skog) from the National science Foundation.

It tells Megan Whitney (Megan Whitney) from the University of Washington in Seattle (USA), she made this discovery by accident, trying to understand how did the teeth of modern mammals, and over whether our closest relatives – the so-called synapsida, or zveroyaschery similar masticatory apparatus.

For this, Whitney and her colleagues have collected several well-preserved skulls of the so-called gorgonopsid, saber-toothed zoroastro, is most similar to mammals, and have studied the structure of their teeth and how they’re attached to the skull.

How the teeth are connected with the jaws, as the scientists explain, is one of the distinctive features of reptiles and mammals. The teeth of dinosaurs and modern lizards are fused directly with the jaw, forming a single unit. Our teeth, as known by any man, attached to the jaw with the roots and special connective tissue holding the teeth inside the gums.

Trying to decide whether a saber-toothed zveroyaschery closer to us or to dinosaurs, the scientists cut one jaw of a gorgonopsian, into many small slices, and studied the structure of each of these «sheets» of bone tissue. Analyzing the roots of the ancient saber-toothed fangs of a predator, Whitney noticed something unusual – a set of peculiar bone «bubbles» of irregular shape.

Initially, paleontologists did not know what constitutes such «nano-teeth», but then they found similar photos that revealed the secret of these mysterious structures – they were so-called odontomas, benign tumors of dental tissue. Such education often occur in the gingival tissues of humans and grow on the teeth, usually not interfering with the normal operation of the teeth and causing pain.

Apparently, the same problems suffered and zveroyaschery who lived on Earth at the end of the Permian, around 255 million years ago. It seems that cancer and other forms of tumors was accompanied by multicellular life and of our ancestors are actually from the moment of their birth, conclude the authors.