This Newly Discovered Dinosaur Thrived in the Cold of Alaska

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A new species of dinosaur that apparently thrived in the cold has been discovered in a remote corner of Alaska.

Greg Erickson, professor of paleobiology at Florida State University, and his colleague Patrick Druckenmiller, geology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, announced the discovery of a 70-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur Tuesday in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

The dinosaur’s fossils mark a turning point in paleontology, which up to this point, has focused on warmer climes. The duck-billed species, dubbed Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, has bones practically littered in the cold Alaskan landscape, indicating to researchers that it not only survived the cold, 40-degree weather—but thrived.

“It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of dinosaurs living up in the polar world was kind of, you know, really? Are you kidding?” Druckenmiller told the Washington Post.

Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis‘s ability to be robustly dominant in the Prince Creek Formation suggests to researchers that these dinosaurs must have been able to adapt to the cold in some way. And being at the polar regions of the world meant the vegetarian dinosaurs also endured periods of darkness. There are no signs that Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis migrated for sunshine or warmth, suggesting the species tolerated and grew to call the area home.

“These were dinosaurs living at the very edge of what we think dinosaurs were physiological capable of,” Druckenmiller said.

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