A new species of dinosaur said to be about 30 feet in length, with a frontal duck-billed nose has been discovered in Northern Alaska and supports growing evidence that dinosaurs were capable of surving in cold climates.
Although related to dinosaur species that lived in warmer climates, specifically Edmontosaurus, whose remains have been found in Alberta, Montana and South Dakota, Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensisappears to have lived and thrived in a region with an average annual temperature of around 6 degrees Celsius, and likely saw months of snowy winter weather.
But after taking a closer look at the bone structure of the fossils, Hirotsugu Mori, field expert from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), and his colleagues noticed that the skull had certain features that weren't present in any other duck-billed species known to the scientific community. The name means "ancient grazer" and was chosen by scientists with assistance from speakers of Inupiaq, the language of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.
"Ugrunaaluk is far and away the most complete dinosaur yet found in the Arctic or any polar region", Druckenmiller said.
Physically, members of the species are believed to have possessed scales, plates on their backs, broad bills (which helped them graze low-lying plants), teeth (which they used for grinding), and supposedly walked kin two (2) feet. "They were definitely not like a typical lizard in their morphology", Druckenmiller said.
Scientists were curious, however, of how the baby dinosaurs were able to survive the temperatures and the long migration the creatures are thought to have had to undergo ever year. Florida State University professor of biological science Greg Erickson said: "It creates this natural question". The findings have been documented in the paleontology journal, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
The bed was named after the geologist Robert Liscomb, who was the first one to find dinosaur bones in Alaska in early 1960, while mapping for Shell.
There are several ways a dinosaur could survive in those temperatures - the meat eaters might have been covered with feathers to provide insulation against the cold, while the plant eaters may have been good at storing fat.
"Down the road, I think you are going to see some intriguing discoveries about the biology of dinosaurs".