First-confirmed occurrence of a lambeosaurine dinosaur found on Alaska’s North Slope

Paper published in Scientific Reports describes paleontologists’ unearthing part of a skull, illustrating that there is much to learn about biodiversity and the environments of the Cretaceous Arctic

Paleontologists from Hokkaido University in Japan, in cooperation with paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, have discovered the first-confirmed occurrence of a lambeosaurine (crested 'duck-billed' dinosaur) from the Arctic - part of the skull of a lambeosaurine dinosaur from the Liscomb Bonebed (71-68 Ma) found on Alaska's North Slope. The discovery proves for the first time that lambeosaurines inhabited the Arctic during the Late Cretaceous. See paper in Scientific Reports. Credit - Illustration by Masato Hattori

Paleontologists from Hokkaido University in Japan, in cooperation with paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, have discovered the first-confirmed occurrence of a lambeosaurine (crested ‘duck-billed’ dinosaur) from the Arctic – part of the skull of a lambeosaurine dinosaur from the Liscomb Bonebed (71-68 Ma) found on Alaska’s North Slope. The discovery proves for the first time that lambeosaurines inhabited the Arctic during the Late Cretaceous. See paper in Scientific Reports. Credit – Illustration by Masato Hattori

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

HOKKAIDO, JAPAN (March 29, 2019) – Paleontologists from Hokkaido University in Japan, in cooperation with paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, have discovered the first-confirmed occurrence of a lambeosaurine (crested ‘duck-billed’ dinosaur) from the Arctic – part of the skull of a lambeosaurine dinosaur from the Liscomb Bonebed (71-68 Ma) found on Alaska’s North Slope. The bonebed was previously known to be rich in hadrosaurine hadrosaurids (non-crested ‘duck-billed’ dinosaurs).

The discovery proves for the first time that lambeosaurines inhabited the Arctic during the Late Cretaceous. In addition, the numeric abundance of hadrosaurine fossils compared to the lambeosaurine fossils in the marine-influenced environment of the Liscomb Bonebed suggests the possibility that hadrosaurines and lambeosaurines had different habitat preferences.

The paleontologists’ findings were published today in Scientific Reports, an open-access, multi-disciplinary journal from Nature Research dedicated to constructive, inclusive and rigorous peer review. The paper – entitled “The first definite lambeosaurine bone from the Liscomb Bonebed of the Upper Cretaceous Prince Creek Formation, Alaska, United States” – is co-authored by Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Ph.D., and Ryuji Takasaki, of Hokkaido University, in cooperation with Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ph.D., of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Other authors are Ronald Tykoski, Ph.D. of the Perot Museum and Paul McCarthy, Ph.D., of the University of Alaska.

The paper can be read in Scientific Reports here.

“This new discovery illustrates the geographic link between lambeosaurines of North America and the Far East,” said Takasaki. “Hopefully, further work in Alaska will reveal how closely the dinosaurs of Asia and North America are connected.”

The newly discovered fossil, which is housed in the collections of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, is a supraoccipital, one of the bones that forms the braincase. The new supraoccipital differs from those of hadrosaurines by the presence of large supraoccipital bosses and it’s short, front-to-back length. Since these features are commonly seen in other members of Lambeosaurinae, the newly discovered supraoccipital was assigned to that group.

“This first definitive evidence of a crested hadrosaur in the Cretaceous Arctic tells us that we still have much to learn about the biodiversity and the biologically productive environments of the ancient north, and that the story these fossils tell us is continually evolving,” adds Dr. Fiorillo.

Background. The Arctic is an extreme environment that is low in temperature, lacks sunlight during winters, and has seasonally limited food resources. Though it was warmer during the Late Cretaceous, the Arctic was surely one of the most challenging places to live for large vertebrates at the time. The Prince Creek Formation on the North Slope of Alaska is a world-famous rock unit for studying dinosaurs of the ancient Arctic. Because the dinosaurs found there lived in the ancient Arctic, rather than tropical or sub-tropical conditions, these dinosaurs challenge much of what we think we know about dinosaurs. The Liscomb Bonebed (71-68 Ma), which was deposited near the ancient Arctic shoreline, is especially rich in dinosaur bones, with more than 6,000 bones collected from it thus far.

More than 99% of dinosaur fossils known from the Liscomb Bonebed are hadrosaurs, a group of large, duck-billed herbivorous dinosaurs who lived during the Late Cretaceous and were found throughout much of the northern hemisphere. All of the hadrosaur fossils from the Liscomb Bonebed were long considered to belong to a hadrosaurine duck-billed dinosaur called Edmontosaurus. Up until now, all of the hadrosaurids known from across the Arctic, including those from the Liscomb Bonebed, were considered to belong to crest-less hadrosaurines.

The discovery of a fossil from a lambeosaurine hadrosaurid in the Liscomb Bonebed is historically important for Japanese paleontologists. The first “Japanese” dinosaur, Nipponosaurus, is a lambeosaurine hadrosaur. Based on the new discovery, Hokkaido University and the Perot Museum together used this discovery to further investigate the ecology of the Arctic hadrosaurids.

Significance

1. The first Arctic lambeosaurine. The new discovery indicates Arctic inhabitance and adaptation of lambeosaurines for the first time. In addition, the fossil’s morphological similarities to the same bone in the skull of southern Canadian lambeosaurines suggest faunal interactions between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes.

2. Implication on habitat preferences. While the Liscomb Bonebed is known for numerous hadrosaurine fossils, the newly discovered bone represents the only definite lambeosaurine fossil from the site. The same trend is also known in mid-latitude localities of North America and eastern Asia, which were also deposited in near-shore environments. On the other hand, more lambeosaurine fossils are found in deposits laid down in inland environments. Therefore, we hypothesize that lambeosaurines favored inland environments, while hadrosaurines preferred coastal environments, a trend likely to have been independent of latitude. Different habitat preferences might have been a strategy to avoid excessive competition between the two groups of ‘duck-billed’ dinosaurs.

Future plans. Although the new discovery reveals Arctic inhabitance by lambeosaurines, more specific taxonomic status and potential functional adaptations to the severe Arctic environment remain unknown due to incompleteness of the specimen. Additional excavation and further research will help answer these questions.

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For images, go to perotmuseum.org/press

About the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The top cultural attraction in Dallas/Fort Worth and a Michelin Green Guide three-star destination, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a nonprofit educational organization located in Victory Park in the heart of Dallas, Texas. With a mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the Perot Museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor and outreach experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The 180,000-square-foot facility in Victory Park opened in December 2012 and is now recognized as the symbolic gateway to the Dallas Arts District. Future scientists, mathematicians and engineers will find inspiration and enlightenment through 11 permanent exhibit halls on five floors of public space; a children’s museum; a state-of-the art traveling exhibition hall; and The Hoglund Foundation Theater, a National Geographic Experience. Designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, the Victory Park museum has been lauded for its artistry and sustainability. To learn more, please visit perotmuseum.org.

About Hokkaido University and Hokkaido University Museum. Hokkaido University is home to some 4 million specimens and documents that have been gathered, preserved and studied since the Sapporo Agricultural College began more than 130 years ago. Amongst these are more than 10,000 precious “type specimens” that form the basis for the discovery and certification of new species. Opened in the spring of 1999, the Hokkaido University Museum conveys the diverse range of research carried out at Hokkaido University while also using various original materials and visual media to introduce the university’s cutting-edge research. The Hokkaido University Museum offers exhibits and diversified information equal to those of any museum, facilitating conversation and creating an atmosphere that encompasses both past and future. Visitors to the museum can shift their attention at will, examining what intrigues them most and gathering information behind the individual exhibits, thus expanding their universe.

From EurekAlert!

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43 thoughts on “First-confirmed occurrence of a lambeosaurine dinosaur found on Alaska’s North Slope

  1. The history behind fossils on the North Slope is interesting in itself:

    “In 1961, an oil geologist working for Shell named Robert Liscomb found a large fossil on the North Slope. He sent it back to a Shell warehouse, but he died in a rockslide the next year and his find fell into obscurity. It was not until Shell decided to do some spring cleaning in the 1980’s that the bone was found, sent to the United States Geological Survey, and identified as belonging to a dinosaur.
    Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/chilled-out-dinosaurs-in-the-alaskan-tundra-33870757/#AqBzlV10waxrL1Rz.99

  2. Talk about climate change! The Late Cretaceous in the western part of North America was dominated by the Western Interior Waterway, a sea invasion that stretched from Texas north to the boundary of Alaska and Canada. The Mancos Shale was deposited in this waterway, and shows a rapid and dramatic change from underlying strata. This underlying strata is dominated by the large sand dune facies of the Morrison, etc, and is host to petrified wood forests and terrestrial dinosaurs. So, if your town/house was in a forest in New Mexico, Colorado, or other places, and you have dinosaur pets (don’t goof on me-I’ve seen the movie) the next thing you know is the sea rushes in and swimming dinosaurs appear! And AOC wants us to believe it was CO2 that is responsible for that?

    • There would have been periods when the Gulf Stream itself flowed up this Western Interior Seaway all the way into the Arctic ocean. Yeah, that would have made the Arctic abpve North America as warm as it can get (in probably the whole history of Earth going back 3 billion years at least).

      The Seaway needed to have a certain depth to carry the Gulf Stream (at least 100 metres) so there were periods when it shut-down (and the Arctic cooled off in those periods). But also remeber that sea level was 250 metres higher 95 million years ago and much of the continents were flooded.

      In the arrangement in this image below, the Gulf Stream does NOT do a loop in the Gulf of Mexico and flow around Florida, it keeps going northwest and flows right up the centre of North America.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Cretaceous_seaway.png

      But it needed to have depth like this period at 82 million years ago, otherwise the lack of depth would have forced the Gulf Stream to go into the loop structure it has now.

      https://deeptimemaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/wiscretcam1.png

    • ” So, if your town/house was in a forest in New Mexico, Colorado, or other places, and you have dinosaur pets (don’t goof on me-I’ve seen the movie) the next thing you know is the sea rushes in and swimming dinosaurs appear”

      I looked at a National Geographic map of the era and the anciet sea and determined from the map that my current home would be right on the east coast of that ancient sea.

      I thought, well if all the ice at the poles melts, my home will still be above water. 🙂

      I may still have that map laying around here somewhere.

  3. ….The new discovery indicates Arctic inhabitance and adaptation of lambeosaurines for the first time…
    Tectonic creep even at the speed of a growing fingernail would have the North Slope over three thousand miles away 70 million years ago…. could have been tropical/equatorial ?
    What am I missing?
    Cheers
    Mike

    • It’s a little old, but likely to be still first order accurate:

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248289084_Jurassic_and_Cretaceous_plate_tectonic_reconstructions

      It’s been known for quite a while that the Canadian Arctic and Alaska were at very high latitudes during the Cretaceous. I believe that Ellesmere island even has fossilized forest from that period. It’s amazing given that there would have been virtually no sunlight for months at a time.

      • MichiCanuck
        You said, “It’s amazing given that there would have been virtually no sunlight for months at a time.” One might view that as evidence that the reconstructions are improbable based on the flora instead of the remnant magnetism.

        • Sorry, but most of the reconstructions are based on sea floor spreading reconstructions, including magnetic stripes. The Cretaceous is recent enough for there to be there to be plenty of ocean floor to still be around. The ONLY way for the North Slope to have been tropical was if there was massive “true polar wander” over the last ~100 Ma. True polar wander is when the rotation axis shifts without the plates moving around. It’s usually looked for by assuming that large hotspots form a relatively fixed frame of reference. The problem with that is that there is no evidence for any of Mexico, Central America, northern S. America, or Africa being at a pole in the Cretaceous. Someone had to be at the pole. Instead, all of the evidence suggests that the North Slope was near the pole. I also note that Alaska does not get a lot of sunlight during the winter, but the warmer parts of the state still have a lot of trees.

          • MichiCanuck
            If the “magnetic stripes” aren’t a reflection of remnant magnetism, what are they?

      • There are Eocene vertebrate fossils on Ellesmere Island. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/ellesmere-island-eocene-fossils

        According to this article from 2014:
        The Far North — including Nunavut and Alaska’s North Slope — was much warmer during the Cretaceous period, but it was far from tropical, according to paleontologists. The climate was more like that of the northern Rockies or the Pacific Northwest. That means dinosaurs living on Axel Heiberg Island in the Cretaceous period, like those on the North Slope, had to function in relatively cold temperatures, Vavrek said.
        http://www.rcinet.ca/eye-on-the-arctic/2014/03/31/worlds-farthest-north-dinosaur-bone-find-sheds-light-on-cretaceous-world/

    • Mike Macray:
      Climate probably not tropical. Between 90 and 50 million years ago, Alaska’s North slope area would have been much closer to the North geographic pole than it is currently. This is based on maps in the book Ancient Landscapes by Blakey and Ranney.

      However, the interior seaway may have been closed off by about 65 Ma, so those dinos would have needed to migrate, had they not been killed off.

  4. It might be of some interest the paper scheduled to appear next week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor
    by University of California – Berkeley
    “This unique, fossilized graveyard—fish stacked one atop another and mixed in with burned tree trunks, conifer branches, dead mammals, mosasaur bones, insects, the partial carcass of a Triceratops, marine microorganisms called dinoflagellates and snail-like marine cephalopods called ammonites—was unearthed by paleontologist Robert DePalma over the past six years in the Hell Creek Formation, not far from Bowman, North Dakota.
    … This is the first mass death assemblage of large organisms anyone has found associated with the K-T boundary
    …. It’s like a museum of the end of the Cretaceous in a layer a meter-and-a-half thick ”
    https://phys.org/news/2019-03-million-year-old-deathbed-linked-dinosaur-killing-meteor.html

    • Posted by: vukcevic – March 30, 2019 at 3:29 am

      “This unique, fossilized graveyard—fish stacked one atop another and mixed in with burned tree trunks, conifer branches, dead mammals, mosasaur bones, insects, the partial carcass of a Triceratops, marine microorganisms called dinoflagellates and snail-like marine cephalopods called ammonites

      This is the first mass death assemblage of large organisms anyone has found associated with the K-T boundary …. It’s like a museum of the end of the Cretaceous in a layer a meter-and-a-half thick.”

      That smells to me like a “long time” repository for items being “flushed” downstream during normal river flow or periods of heavy rainfall, flooding and/or flash-flooding.

      The following excerpted from cited source document, to wit:

      “I went to the site in 2015 and, in front of my eyes, he (DePalma) uncovered a charred log or tree trunk about four meters long which was covered in amber, which acted as sort of an aerogel and caught the tektites when they were coming down,” Smit said

      Now just how in hell do you suppose a charred log (tree trunk) got covered in amber?

      Was a mosasaur or triceratops using pine resin to do “claw” painting on dead tree trunks or what?

      • Didn’t the fish have tektites in their gills?

        I believe trees generate amber secretions due to insect damage, but a dino could conceivably do it as well /s.

        • Shur nuff, …. Thomas E, …. both insects and dinos could have caused damage to the LIVE tree bark, resulting in sap leakage and amber forming, …. but it is not going to happen if the tree is dead and its trunk’s cambium layer has been destroyed by being burned.

          Besides that, amber takes a long time (many, many weeks) to form (collect and harden).

      • Nothing very remarkable in a tree-trunk partially covered by resin. The hot tektites melted into the resin and were covered by the resin that ultimately turned into amber. If a fly can do it, why not a tektite?

        Whether the the tree-trunk was already charred before the impact or by the resulting wildfires is a minor point.

        • tty, …. tell all your above likeminded posters that ….. iffen one finds a charred tree-trunk that is covered in amber then it has to be the result of PFM perpetrated by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, simply because, to wit:

          Tree resins are hydrocarbon secretion of coniferous (pine) trees

          Pine trees ooze resin when they get damaged.

          Tree resin has antibacterial properties which prevent the damaged tree from getting infected.

          Do NOT heat the pine resin directly over a flame because it is highly flammable.

          Pine resin is simply great for starting camp fires.

          Amber is a fossilized resin from ancient evergreen trees.

          Amber will burn if ignited.

          Trees that have been burned to death do not ooze resins.

          Trees do not live long enough to become covered in fossilized resins (amber).

          A tree trunk covered by resin increases its flammability by a horrendous percentage.

          Cheers, …… Sam the Botanist

    • It wouldn’t be the first dinosaur inferred from a loose collection of circumstantial evidence and modeled to appear “consistent with”. There is a reason why science is necessarily a near-domain philosophy and practice which is normally constrained through requirements of observation, replication, and deduction.

  5. Lots of dinosaurs migrate back and forth to the Arctic from less extreme environments even now (although we call them birds). It would be interesting if duck-bills did the same, crested or not, but it seems a bit excitable to be getting excited over a crested duck-bill fossil from the far north. Now if it had giant eyes to help forage during the long dark winters ….

    • DaveW
      And their descendants — caribou — migrate out of the cold, dark Arctic, along with the predators that depend on them. So, the obvious answer to how the dinosaurs survived six months of dark, cold environment with senescent vegetation is, they didn’t! They only inhabited the area in the Summer.

  6. Just wondering if all those lambeosaurines were worried about falling levels of CO2 . . . or should have been?

  7. Were these guys cold-blooded like most of their neighbors? Birds are warm-blooded, and the Archaeopterix went extinct so cannot be called to link to dinosaurs. A comparison of bird and dino bones shows a major difference.

    • Birds are theropod dinosaurs. Theropods were almost certainly warm-blooded, certainly the feathered ones were. Other larger and less active dinosaurs are more uncertain.

  8. Either that or a sea monster whose probable existence was inferred from an unidentified loose tooth (ULT).

  9. How do they know the skull wasn’t carried there by one of Loana’s friends – or even Loana herself?

    People tote that kind of stuff around all the time.

    I learned lots of stuff from watching movies. One Million Years B.C. was packed with cool science. Maybe not good, but cool!

  10. It’s. All Bull Crap!!
    Dinosaurs never existed just like evolution and climate change, The socialists Democrats/ Globslists are blatant liars!!

    You want the truth? Study the Bible

    • Craig Rogers
      We discuss science here. And, indeed, those that espouse views based on religion, be it climate or evolution, are looked down upon. It you can provide factual evidence, rather than theological dogma, then we can discuss the falsifiability.

      • Ok, so you prove Evolution is a fact not a theory.
        Dinosaurs, well go get a so called fossil of a T Rex and prove that it is real.
        Its a fabricated made up stories.. All the dating numbers that are put out are from fantasy land.
        Climate change is a LIE.
        People believe what they want to hear.

      • Paleontologists from Hokkaido University in Japan, in cooperation with paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, have discovered

        NOTICE 95% of the time,, its only paleontologists find the fossils! DUHHH..
        Go back to the Mid 1800.s when there was a few paleontologists who came up with the idea that dinos. existed, then later they found a couple teeth and from those teeth only they created a whole dinosaur.. DUHH.

  11. My impression (and please correct me if I’m wrong) was that for the 150 million years dinosaurs roamed the planet, the temperature of the globe was a good 20 F warmer than today.

    And that was true for most of the Tertiary as well, up to the Oligocene (when it was only 10F warmer) and the Miocene 5F warmer).

    In other words, the normative condition for Planet Earth for 99% of the last ~240 million years has been much, much warmer than today. And the seas did not (repeat did NOT) boil into outer space. In fact, the climate was quite nice and conducive to abundant life globally.

    That’s my impression, anyway. I could show you a petrified Eocene forest with palm trees and other tropical trees right here in Oregon where those plants surely will not grow today. Because it is too cold. Warmer is Better, IMHO.

    • The goto web site for paleomaps is the Paleomap Project at http://www.scotese.com/ . It’s a serious site that uses data from thousands of fossil sites to try to determine paleo-coastlines and climates. There are three maps there that seem relevant here — Cretaceous (94Ma), K/T Extinction(64Ma), and Cretaceous Climate (80Ma or so?)

      The 94Ma Map shows Western North America as a narrow NS strip running from near the North Pole South to about 20N. The Western Interior Seaway was in place and would quite likely have deflected a warm current North to the pole. Note that there was a real equatorial ocean stretching around the planet back then so there might not have been today’s “There’s no place for all that very warm water in the Carribean/Gulf of Mexico to go but North” Gulf Stream,

      By the end of the Cretaceous 30 million years later, the map shows that the Interior Seaway had closed in Northern Canada.

      Climate: North Slope Alaska would have been on the boundary between Warm Temperate (South Carolina/Spain?) and Cool Temperate(Nova Scotia/Germany?)

      Surprise-if any: The Cretaceous tropics were apparently, based on fossils, less extensive than today

      • Don K
        Those reconstructions don’t suggest any real topographic impediment to annual migrations to take advantage of lush growth in the Arctic during the long hours of Summer sunlight. So, it is not unreasonable that the dinosaurian ‘snowbirds’ went south every Winter, and didn’t have to contend with the cold, darkness, and senescent vegetation.

  12. And I feel a very big fart coming on here?
    A fart from one of these, could have created a polar vortex ?
    The IPCC’s AR5 estimate- a tonne of livestock methane, so what methane are we talking about?

    The methane coming from you, a likely member of your local IPCC live stock exchange, or the polar bear vortex, which consists many, many , Bear asses, pointing to the moon.

  13. @Bonbon:

    It’s been pretty well established for forty years or so that virtually all the creatures we colloquially call dinosaurs were endotherms (warm blooded).

    The thing with Archaeopterix is even more interesting: The Archaeopterix fossils from Solnhofen were the first creatures that old to be found with feathers. At the time, feathers were thought to be unique to birds so they had to classify it with aves, even though it had many features that were not avian. Since then many more feathered fossils have been found and we’ve learned a lot more about when feathers appeared, how they evolved, and which creatures had them. It’s still a bit uncertain, but while Archaeopterix may not be directly ancestral to modern birds at all, it was part of the group that eventually evolved into modern birds 80 million years or so later.

    • Actually there are very few features of Archaeopteryx that would exclude it from being a direct ancestor of modern birds. At the least it must be close to the lineage ancestral to ornithurine birds.

      However we now know that there were lots of birds in the Cretaceous, some of them quite odd, while all modern birds are derived from a very small number (perhaps as few as three or four) of fairly closely related species that managed to survive the Chicxulub impact, perhaps in Antarctica.

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