World's Oldest Tumor


A Neanderthal bone fragment shows a cancerous tumor. Image: Monge J., Kricun M., Radovcic J., Radovcic D., Mann A., et al, PLoS ONE

There was not a lot of pesticides and environmental pollutants over 100,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean that Neanderthals didn't get tumors:

The discovery of a fibrous dysplasia in a Neanderthal rib is the earliest known bone tumor on record, predating other tumors by more than 100,000 years. The rib, recovered from a site in Krapina, Croatia, indicates that Neanderthals were susceptible to the same types of tumors modern-day humans get, despite living in a remarkably different environment.

"They didn't have pesticides, but they probably were sleeping in caves with burning fires," says David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas and the co-author of a new paper about the discovery. "They were probably inhaling a lot of smoke from the caves. So the air was not completely free of pollutants—but certainly, these Neanderthals weren't smoking cigarettes."

Melody Kramer of National Geographic News has the post: Link - Thanks Flora!


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Fibrous dysplasia is specifically not cancer, so the caption is incorrect. Though I see it was just copied from the National Geographic site, so not Alex's fault (this time! ;) ).
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