"Lost World" of Dinosaurs Once Thrived In Alaska

"Lost World" of Dinosaurs Once Thrived In Alaska

Newly discovered fossils have revealed a dinosaur species which thrived in Alaska 70 million years ago.

We've only recently started coming to terms with the idea that dinosaurs weren't the cold-blooded lizards we imagined. It's still hard to shake those childhood notions, especially when we always picture them stomping around a tropical jungle. But if you already read the title of this article, you know this picture just got even more complicated. Researchers have uncovered fossils from a new species of duck-billed dinosaur that thrived in Alaska roughly 70 million years ago.

"It wasn't so long ago that the idea of dinosaurs living up in the polar world was kind of, you know, really?" University of Alaska Museum of the North earth sciences curator Patrick Druckenmiller said. "Are you kidding?"

Recent studies already suggested that dinosaurs were neither warm or cold-blooded, meaning they could live in relatively colder climates. Yet Alaska's Prince Creek Formation still offered a treasure trove of dino fossils, roughly 10,000 bones from the new species. Alaskan temperatures during this ancient time period averaged in the low 40s - which is fairly cold by reptilian standards.

Dubbed "Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis", this duck-billed herbivore was 25 feet long and bore a resemblance to Alberta and Montana's "Edmontosaurus". The number of bones indicates a strong presence in the region, which means the species had adaptations to live in the cold. It's currently believed the bones came from a site where a herd of young dinosaurs were attacked. If true, that might even mean carnivorous dinos lived in the territory as well.

How dinosaurs survived the Alaskan chill isn't the only question scientists have - there's also the matter of darkness. Due to its geographical location, the region would have been pitch black for three to five months every year. There's also no sign the species migrated to follow the sun, so unless Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis are actually the 30 Days of Night vampires, they probably had adaptations for low light as well. "It's intriguing for us to ponder how they survived those months of darkness," Florida State University professor Greg Erickson explained. "We're just finding this whole new world of dinosaurs we didn't know existed."

For now, researchers plan to track growth rates of dinosaur bones to determine if an unusually slow metabolism kept back the cold. Either way, it's fascinating to imagine dinosaurs living farther North than we ever expected. Maybe Marvel Comics was right about the Savage Land as well.

Source: Washington Post

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What is it with the weird trend of prehistory-related articles acting like they're some kind of shocking new information when it's always something we've known about for years? Why does that always happen? But then the ACTUAL interesting stuff, like when they finally found Deinocheirus' body, flies under the radar. >:(

"Alaskan temperatures during this ancient time period averaged in the low 40s - which is fairly cold by reptilian standards."

Low 40s WHAT? Celsius? Fahrenheit? KELVIN (very chilly dinos...)?

If you're going to post science news, at least define your units.

You don't have to be nocturnal to be able to function at night. Darkness in the winter is simply night, it isn't some paranormal super-darkness.

Point of clarification, scientists no longer use terms like "warm-blooded" or "cold-blooded" because it's found that neither term really means anything. There are actually multiple different kinds of body temperature regulation techniques that animals use in various combinations. Last I read, I believe there were technically nine classifications of "blooded"ness now confirmed, with several possible others that we haven't yet observed.

bigfatcarp93:
What is it with the weird trend of prehistory-related articles acting like they're some kind of shocking new information when it's always something we've known about for years? Why does that always happen? But then the ACTUAL interesting stuff, like when they finally found Deinocheirus' body, flies under the radar. >:(

Oh my God what they found its body?! Why didn't I know about that?! I was obsessed with those arms when I was a child, then when I went to London on my 17th, half-forgotten them, I suddenly saw them in the London Natural History Museum and I went insane. After googling it I'm almost disappointed it was basically a big duck. Oh well, the mystery was cool while it lasted, and science is all about uncovering them eh?

As for this news, yeah it's not that newsworthy. We already knew dinosaurs thrived on Antartica, and even back then that was an icy place.

Cowabungaa:

bigfatcarp93:
What is it with the weird trend of prehistory-related articles acting like they're some kind of shocking new information when it's always something we've known about for years? Why does that always happen? But then the ACTUAL interesting stuff, like when they finally found Deinocheirus' body, flies under the radar. >:(

Oh my God what they found its body?! Why didn't I know about that?! I was obsessed with those arms when I was a child, then when I went to London on my 17th, half-forgotten them, I suddenly saw them in the London Natural History Museum and I went insane. After googling it I'm almost disappointed it was basically a big duck. Oh well, the mystery was cool while it lasted, and science is all about uncovering them eh?

As for this news, yeah it's not that newsworthy. We already knew dinosaurs thrived on Antartica, and even back then that was an icy place.

Actually, I'm quite happy with Deinocheirus. At least better it turns out to be something interesting, with that weird hump and bill and such, then what I was dreading, which was that it would just turn out to be, "Oh, it's just Gallimimus, but... you know... bigger."

 

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