Paleopathology, also spelled palaeopathology, is the study of ancient diseases. Studying pathologies, these abnormalities in biologic individuals and systems, may be intrinsic to the system itself (examples: autoimmune disorders or traumatic arthritis) or caused by an extrinsic factor (examples: viruses or lead poisoning from pipes). Any living organism can have a pathology. Studies have historically focused on humans, but there is no evidence that humans are more pathologic than any other animal.
Paleopathology is an interdisciplinary science. The majority of the work has historically been done by anthropologists studying diseases in ancient cultures. Medically trained professionals have also made substantial contributions, especially in modern comparative studies.Paleontologists have sporadically contributed to the field, focusing on non-avian dinosaurs and Cenozoic mammals.