Loch Ness Monster Arthritis: Even Pliosaurs Get the Blues

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Loch Ness Monster Arthritis isn't some sort of bizarre disease that you're likely to learn about while watching reruns of terrible sitcoms in the wee hours of the morning. No, according to a team of researchers at the University of Bristol in England, recent studies have shown that pilosaurs -- creatures that are not unlike the mysterious creature of Scottish lore -- were susceptible to degenerative conditions that are similar to modern-day arthritis.

"This pliosaur, like many of its relatives, was truly huge," vertebrate paleontologist Michael Benton explained to LiveScience. "To stand beside its skull and realize that it is 3 meters long, and massive and heavy as it is, that it once functioned with muscles and blood vessels and nerves, is amazing. You can lie down inside its mouth."

The specimen Benton is referring to is the 150-million-years-old Pliosaurus discovered by collector Simon Carpenter in 1994, which is currently housed at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.While studying the specimen, researchers soon noticed an arthritic-like condition in the Pliosaur's left jaw joint, causing the bone to fracture. This, in turn, caused the jaw to become crooked, which might have made feeding quite difficult.

"The most exciting aspect of this research for me is the arthritic condition, which has never been seen before in these or similar Mesozoic reptiles," Judyth Sassoon, a searcher at the University of Bristol, explained.

So what does all of this have to do with the Loch Ness Monster, you ask? Many people believe that the seldom-seen creature is a long-long descendent of the Pliosaurs, which means it could be suffering from the same arthritic conditions as its ancestors. However, no one from the Scottish Highlands can confirm if this story is just another clever ruse by the monster to extort tree fiddy from unsuspecting residents and tourists.

[h/t: Amanda Crum]

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