Dinosaurs lived and raised their young near the North Pole

Dinosaurs lived and raised their young near the North Pole
Dinosaurs lived and raised their young near the North Pole

For many dinosaurs, the Arctic was a great place to start a family. Dinosaurs didn't just spend their summers in the high latitudes of the Arctic, they could live there all year round, new fossil evidence suggests. Fossilized milk teeth and bones indicate that some dinosaurs raised their young near the North Pole.

Hundreds of bones and teeth found along the Colville River in northern Alaska belong to dinosaur chicks, researchers say. The remains from the Prince Creek Outcrops represent seven families of dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus, Duck-billed Adrosaurus, Horned Ceratopsids, and Crested Ceratopsids.

“These are the northernmost [non-Asian] dinosaurs we know of,” says paleontologist Patrick Druckenmiller of the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. And now it’s clear that they didn’t just migrate to polar latitudes, he says. “They nested, shelved and hatched eggs … practically at the North Pole."

Some of these dinosaurs incubated their eggs for up to six months, as shown by previous data (SN: 1/23/17). That would leave little time for any dinosaurs nesting in the Arctic to migrate south before winter, Druckenmiller and colleagues report June 24 in Current Biology. And any offspring would hardly survive the long journey.

The hundreds of teeth and bones of baby dinosaurs found in northern Alaska are the best evidence that some dinosaurs nested and raised their offspring in the Arctic. The remains include a Tyrannosaurus tooth (left), a Ceratopsid tooth (top left), and a theropod bone (middle right).

During the life of the dinosaurs, the Arctic was slightly warmer than it is today. Between 80 and 60 million years ago, the average annual temperature in this region was about 6 ° Celsius - about the same as in modern Ottawa, according to fossil plants from the Prince Creek Formation. However, hibernating dinosaurs had to endure months of darkness, freezing temperatures, and even snowfalls, Druckenmiller said.

They may have fought the cold with insulating feathers or some degree of warm-bloodedness (SN: 4/4/12); SN: 6/13/14), and herbivores may have hibernated or fed on rotten vegetation when fresh food diminished in the dark months, Druckenmiller suggests. He acknowledges that the finding of baby dinosaur fossils has raised more questions than answers.

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