It's a condition we generally associate with old age and the wear and tear of life on the joints. Researchers have found a possible new cause for arthritis thanks to studies of animal health. Rather than observing rats and mice, researchers turned their attention to larger subjects: wild moose.
For the past 50 years an ongoing study has revealed that moose suffer from a form of arthritis that is nearly identical to that humans suffer from, osteoarthritis. The results of the half-century study has shown that malnutrition early in the life of the moose played a role in the development of arthritis in the animals.
On Isle Royale, in Lake Superior and Michigan, the study began in 1958. Since then, the skeletal remains of over 4,000 moose killed by harsh winters or wolves have been studied by three generations of scientists. As the moose population increased and food became scarce, cases of osteoarthritis in the moose increased as well. When the population fell and food became more plentiful, cases of arthritis lowered.
Researchers are hoping that the studies they've done with the moose will aid in research of osteoarthritis in humans.
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