In “Tiny parasite may have done in mighty T. rex” (Chicago Tribune, September 30, 2009), William Mullen writes:
CHICAGO – Sue – the biggest, meanest, meat-eating dinosaur known to history – probably was killed not by some other monster killer battling with her 65 million years ago, but by a tiny, one-celled parasite that gave her a sore throat. That is the conclusion drawn by an international team of scientists who studied holes in the jaw of Sue, the biggest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever found and one of the star attractions at Chicago’s Field Museum. The holes in Sue’s mandible bones at one time were thought to be bite marks by another T. rex during a fight sometime during her life. A paper published Tuesday in the online science journal PLoS says instead that the holes were made by a parasitic infection called trichomonosis, which continues to cause fatal disease in modern-day carnivorous birds known as raptors – hawks, eagles and osprey. (c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.Perceptually, all Sue would have been to us was pieces of rock. Conceptually — with science, mathematics, and measurement — the individual pieces of rock become classifiable as old bones based on their shape (i.e., their geometry); they can then be compared and contrasted (based on geometric shape, size, density, structure, etc.) with the bones of living (or recently deceased) animals to grasp that the rocks make up a whole, a skeleton; and with more knowledge (biology, zoology, botany, evolution, chemistry, physics, mathematics) they can be used to grasp what kind of animal had the bones, how the animal lived and moved, what it ate, and when it lived. All we know about dinosaurs is based on our ability to conceptualize, and therefore, ultimately, on measurement and mathematics.