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Scientists find evidence of Tumor in 255 Million-year-old Fossil of a mammal-like beast in Tanzania

Until now, this type of tumor was known only in mammals, including some Ice Age fossils tens of thousands of years old

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A histological thin section of the gorgonopsid lower jaw of a saber-tooth mammal-like beast that prowled Tanzania 255 million years ago, taken near the top of the canine root showing the cluster of small circles, indicative of compound odontoma. (Courtesy Chistian Sidor/Megan Whitney) VOA
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Washington, December 9, 2016: Scientists examining the jawbone of a saber-toothed, mammal-like beast that prowled Tanzania 255 million years ago have come across a remarkable fossil rarity: one of the oldest-known tumors.

University of Washington researchers on Thursday described a benign tumor composed of miniature toothlike structures they found embedded next to the root of the creature’s enlarged canine tooth while studying an unrelated aspect of the jaw.

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The animal was a member of an extinct group of four-legged carnivores called gorgonopsians that mixed mammal-like and reptilelike traits. They reached up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and appeared early in the evolutionary lineage that led to mammals. The jawbone came from one of the smaller gorgonopsian species.

Gorgonopsians were among the top predators of their time, thriving from about 270 million to 252 million years ago, when they were wiped out during Earth’s worst mass extinction at the end of the Permian Period. Their demise came roughly 20 million years before the first dinosaurs.

When the researchers sliced into the mandible fossil from Tanzania’s Ruhuhu Valley, they found a benign dental tumor called a compound odontoma that grows within the gums or other jaw soft tissues. When people get one, surgery is sometimes used to remove it.

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A handout image of a CT scan of the front half of a lower jawbone of a saber-toothed mammal-like beast that prowled Tanzania 255 million years ago. Bone is shown in red and teeth are in blue. This is not the specimen in which the odontoma was found; it is included as a representative of what gorgonopsian jaws and teeth look like. (Courtesy Christian Sidor/Megan Whitney) VOA
A handout image of a CT scan of the front half of a lower jawbone of a saber-toothed mammal-like beast that prowled Tanzania 255 million years ago. Bone is shown in red and teeth are in blue. This is not the specimen in which the odontoma was found; it is included as a representative of what gorgonopsian jaws and teeth look like. (Courtesy Christian Sidor/Megan Whitney) VOA

“There was no indication that there was a tumor in this jaw. It looked normal before we cut it open. It was pure luck that we found the tumor,” University of Washington paleobiologist Megan Whitney said.

Until now, this type of tumor was known only in mammals, including some Ice Age fossils tens of thousands of years old.

The new discovery shows such a tumor existed in mammal ancestors that lived tens of millions of years before the first mammals appeared.

Tumors, malignant and benign, typically involve soft tissue, and rarely fossilize.

“Ancient tumors generally need to affect hard parts such as bones and teeth in order to be preserved in the fossil record,” University of Washington paleobiologist Christian Sidor added.

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This tumor included hard enamel and dentin.

Few tumor fossils are older. A 300 million-year-old fish was found with a tumor, and a 350 million-year-old armored fish was found with an apparent tumor.

“Fossils allow us to understand the evolution of diseases in deep time and have the potential to provide clues as to the causes of diseases that afflict humans,” Whitney said.

The research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google, Facebook face greater scrutiny in Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?