An artist’s depiction of the recently identified polar dinosaur. Illustration: James Havens.
It’s a pretty amazing discovery, because we weren’t even sure that dinosaurs lived that far north. Although scientists have long thought that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, finding remains near Polar regions is pretty rare.
Paleontologists from the University of Florida and the University of Alaska Fairbanks have discovered a new species of dinosaur further north than any other species yet discovered. Called Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, the new species of duck-billed dinosaur lived in an area that would have been heavily forested at the time, but probably had an average temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning they probably saw snow in their lifetimes.
The fossils were discovered in a geological formation called the Prince Creek Formation, along the Coleville River. Because they found so many samples from this species, it is also the most completely known dinosaur species from the Polar Regions.
Most of the fossils came from juveniles, although they do have specimens from older creatures to help verify the young age of the others, and that they were a unique species. Researchers suggested that some large-scale event killed an entire herd of juveniles in order to have so many individuals preserved in one spot.
The location of the fossils means that these dinosaurs lived about as far north as land is known to have existed at that time. But, they weren’t the only species that lived in the area. There were likely many other creatures living there at the time, and various plants as well.
In fact, among the bones, they found teeth and other fragmentary remains of at least a dozen other species of dinosaur in thee area, as well as reptiles, fish and mammals. In total, they found about 9,000 pieces from various animals in a layer of rock called the Liscomb Bone Bed, which was deposited in that location by a arctic coastal floodplain about 69 million years ago.