Creatures from the prehistoric world, thought to be ancient Loch Ness monsters, are believed to have suffered from arthritis just as many elderly humans face the debilitating condition today.
Researchers from the University of Bristol in England were studying a fossil specimen of a Pliosaur from the Mesozoic period and realized that the bones showed signs of a degenerative condition like that of the modern ailment arthritis.
The onset of such a condition is thought to be in part related to the massive size of the animal.
"This pliosaur, like many of its relatives, was truly huge," Michael Benton, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Bristol in England, told LiveScience.com.
"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," he said.
Benton examined a specimen of Pliosaurus that was thought to be 150-million-years-old which had been discovered in 1994 by collector Simon Carpenter and had been kept in the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery in England.
"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," researcher Judyth Sassoon at the University of Bristol told LiveScience.com.
Researchers explained that it was a female because of a distinctive ridge that ran along the skull. The size and nature of the fused bone structure in the skull led the scientists to determine that it was a mature animal.
Researchers also noticed that the arthritic-like condition had fractured the Pliosaur's left jaw joint and this would have caused the jaw to be crooked, making feeding very difficult.
"An unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke. Sassoon said. "With a broken jaw, the Pliosaur would not have been able to feed, and that final accident probably led to her demise."