Discovery of oldest known fossil tumor

When paleontologists cut into the fossilized jaw of an ancient creature, they got more than they bargained for: a toothy tumor. The scientists discovered evidence that the specimen harbored a benign tumor made up of miniature, tooth-like structures. This type of tumor, known as a "compound odontoma," is common to mammals today. But this animal lived 255 million years ago--before mammals existed. Before this discovery, the earliest evidence of odontomas came from ice age-era fossils.

Provided by the National Science Foundation

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