Dinosaurs loom large in the human imagination, towering above the treetops, bringing down prey and reigning over the ancient land, sea and sky.
In real life, though, things weren’t always so spectacular. A paper published last week in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B by Les Hearn, a retired science teacher, and Amanda Williams, a psychologist seeking evidence of chronic pain in other species, collects the wince-inducing tales of hundreds of dinosaur injuries. Paleontologists are able to deduce whether dinosaurs suffered wounds during their lifetimes by analyzing fossilized bones and other evidence, and have found a tyrannosaur with its rival’s tooth embedded in its jaw, unusually spaced tracks left by an ornithopod with a toe injury and many more prehistoric owies.
En masse, the injury reports help to demystify the lives of these ancient creatures, which were fraught with danger and, sometimes, slapstick silliness.
They also raise a question: If a banged-up dinosaur walked into a veterinarian’s office today, what might happen next?