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New Dinosaur Species: Cold-Weather Hadrosaur Found in Alaska

Sep 23, 2015 11:13 AM EDT
The newly discovered hadrosaur was a duck-billed dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous Period.
(Photo : James Havens)

A new cold-weather hadrosaur species was discovered in the Liscomb Bone Bed, along the Colville River. This species, known as Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, roamed the North Slope of Alaska and endured long periods of winter darkness and snowy conditions.

This new species was a type of duck-billed dinosaur that could grow up to 30 feet long. They were also suited with hundreds of teeth for eating coarse vegetation, according to researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  

The fossils were excavated from a fossil-rich location known as the Prince Creek formation and are dated to be roughly 69 million years old. This find represents the northernmost dinosaurs known to date.

Hadrosaur Bones
(Photo : UAMN photo by Pat Druckenmiller)
A handful of dinosaur bones found at the Liscomb Bone Bed on the Colville River, northern Alaska.

"Today we find these animals in polar latitudes," Pat Druckenmiller, Earth sciences curator at the Museum of the North, said in a news release. "Amazingly, they lived even farther north during the Cretaceous Period. These were the northern-most dinosaurs to have lived during the Age of Dinosaurs. They were truly polar."

At the time that the Prince Creek Formation was deposited, Arctic Alaska was covered in polar forests, since the climate was so much warmer, the release noted.

"The finding of dinosaurs this far north challenges everything we thought about a dinosaur's physiology," Gregory Erickson, a Florida State University researcher who specializes in bone and tooth histology, said in a statement. "It creates this natural question. How did they survive up here?"

Over 6,000 bones of this new species have been excavated from this site. Since a large number of them were juvenile fossils, "It appears that a herd of young animals was killed suddenly, wiping out mostly one similar-aged population to create this deposit," Druckenmiller added. 

Researchers suggest this area holds an abundance of new species waiting to be found. Their findings were recently published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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