Researchers from Florida and Alaska universities unearthed a new species of duck-billed dinosaur in the last place they would expect to find one – the high Arctic of Alaska. The finding challenges previous commonly held assumption that dinosaurs only thrived in warm tropical and equatorial regions.
The fossils were found on the bank of Colville River beyond the Arctic circle. Researchers believe that the newly-found dinosaur belongs to the Hadrosaur family but it is distinct of its cousins unearthed in Canada and states located at lower latitudes.
The dinosaur which is the forth species found in Alaska adds evidence to a hypothesis that states dinosaurs also lived in frigid temperatures beyond the Arctic circle not only in warm tropical temperatures as we are accustomed with from dinosaur flicks and literature.
“Basically a lost world of dinosaurs that we didn’t realize existed,”
said Gregory Erickson, lead author of the study and researcher at Florida State University.
Researchers believe that the Arctic hadrosaur was adapted to frigid temperatures, snow and winter darkness. Erickson explained, however, that temperatures in the Arctic were much warmer when dinosaurs roamed Earth than they are today. They were more like the temperatures in today’s British Columbia.
As a follow-up, the research team plans to learn how these animals were able to thrive in cooler environments. When asked to comment on the discovery, Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York said he believes that the Alaska dinosaurs lived there year round because young dinosaurs weren’t able to survive a long migratory trip. Plus, the temperatures were warmer beyond the Arctic Circle than what we experience today, so dinosaurs were better able to survive.
The new dinosaur was unearthed in the Liscomb Bone Bed, a rich source of dinosaur fossils located 100 miles south of the Arctic Ocean. The site was named after a geologist who found dinosaur bones at the site while mapping the area for an oil company in the early 1960s.
That geologist’s first impression was that the bones belonged to mammals, so the fossils remained in a storage room for more than two decades when a scientist realized that the bones came from dinosaurs.
So far, there are about 6,000 hadrosaur remains unearthed worldwide. Most of them were small animals about 9 feet long and 3 feet high around the hip area. Florida researchers said that the newly found fossils suggest that a herd of such animals faced sudden death to create the deposit. All dinosaurs were about the same age when they died.
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