A Neanderthal rib fragment (top) reveals a gaping cavity where weblike spongey bone should be (see healthy rib, bottom). This cavity is evidence of the oldest known human tumor ever found, reported June 5, 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE.
The oldest human tumor ever found — by more than 100,000 years — has been discovered in the rib of a Neanderthal.
The bone, excavated more than 100 years ago in Croatia, has been hollowed out by a tumor still seen in humans today, known as fibrous dysplasia. These tumors are not cancerous (they don't spread to other tissues), but they replace the weblike inner structure of a bone with a soft, fibrous mass.
"They range all the way from being totally benign, where you wouldn’t recognize them, to being extremely painful," said David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas who reported the finding along with his colleagues today (June 5) in the journal PLOS ONE. "The size of this one, and the bulging of it, probably caused the individual pain." [Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans]
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