New species of dinosaur found in Alaska, researchers claim

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A handful of the dinosaur bones that were discovered at the Lipscomb Bonebed on the Colville River, near Nuiqsut, Alaska. (Photo: Pat Druckenmiller, AP)
392 CONNECT 32 TWEET 1 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENT EMAIL MORE ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Researchers have uncovered a new species of plant-eating dinosaur in Alaska, according to a report published Tuesday.
The animal was a variety of hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed in herds, said Pat Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks.
Northern Alaska likely was once covered by forest in a warmer climate. The dinosaur lived in darkness for months and probably experienced snow, researchers said.
The fossils were found in rock deposited 69 million years ago.
For at least 25 years, the fossils were lumped in with another hadrosaur, Edmontosaurus, a species well-known in Canada and the U.S., including Montana and South Dakota. The formal study of the Alaska dinosaur revealed differences in skull and mouth features that made it a different species, Druckenmiller said.
The differences were not immediately apparent because the Alaska dinosaurs were juveniles. Researchers teased out differences in the Alaska fossils, Druckenmiller said, by plotting growth trajectories and by comparing them with juvenile Edmontosourus bones.
Researchers have dubbed the creature Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis. The name means “ancient grazer” and was chosen by scientists with assistance from speakers of Inupiaq, the language of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.
The dinosaurs grew up to 30 feet (9 meters) long. Hundreds of teeth helped them chew coarse vegetation, researchers said. They probably walked primarily on their hind legs but could walk on four-legs, Druckenmiller said.
Most of the fossils were found in the Prince Creek Formation of the Liscomb Bone Bed along the Colville River more than 300 miles (500 kilometers) northwest of Fairbanks. The bed is named for geologist Robert Liscomb, who found the first dinosaur bones in Alaska in 1961 while mapping for Shell Oil Co.
Museum scientists have excavated and catalogued more than 6,000 bones from the species, more than any other Alaska dinosaur. Most were small juveniles estimated to have been about 9 feet (3 meters) long and 3-feet (1 meter) tall at the hips.
Scientists discovered the fossil of a small dinosaur with batlike wings in China, according to a report in 'Nature.' The new dinosaur is named Yi qi (pronounced "ee chee") and means "strange wing" in Mandarin. It belongs to the scansoriopterygids, a group of small dinosaurs that have only been found in China. Dinostar Co. Ltd. Fullscreen Stubs resembling devil's horns above the Regaliceratops' eyes helped inspire the nickname Hellboy, which the animal shares with a two-horned comic-book superhero. Hellboy came to light thanks to amateur fossil hunter Peter Hews, who in 2005 saw a patch of dark stone on a riverbank in Alberta. Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta. Fullscreen In 1965, paleontologists unearthed a ghastly pair of eight-foot, claw-tipped dinosaur arms – and little else. Since then, researchers have been searching for the rest of Deinocheirus mirificus (Latin for "unusual, horrible hands"). Now, a team working in Mongolia has found it. Some had hypothesized that Deinocheirus used its arms to ensnare live prey, but stomach contents recovered by Lee and his colleagues suggest this dinosaur ate plants and fish. In their publication, the team pegs Deinocheirus as the largest-known member of the ornithomimosaurs, a group of "ostrich-like" theropods that includes such dinosaurs as Gallimimus. Yuong-Nam Lee, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources Fullscreen The Deinocheirus probably lumbered along like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of 'Star Wars' fame: 16-feet tall, 36-foot long, 7-tons with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back, scientists say. Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group via AP Fullscreen Lead author Lee Yuong-nam, director of the Geological Museum, speaks about Deinocheirus mirificus during a news conference in Seoul on Wednesday. Lee Jin-man, AP Fullscreen The only known dinosaur adapted to life in water, Spinosaurus swam the rivers of North Africa a hundred million years ago. The massive predator lived in a region mostly devoid of large, terrestrial plant-eaters, subsisting mainly on huge fish. National Geographic, October Issue Fullscreen Kenneth Lacovara, PhD, stands beside a row of dorsal (mid-back) vertebrae from Dreadnoughtus schrani, the dinosaur he discovered in southern Patagonia in Argentina. Other bones from this exceptionally complete dinosaur are throughout the lab, including the tail in the background. Drexel University Fullscreen A photo of dreadnoughtus bones. A newly-discovered dinosaur. USA TODAY Fullscreen Paleontologists unveiled in November a new dinosaur discovered four years ago in southern Utah that proves giant tyrant dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex were around 10 million years earlier than previously believed. The fossils were found in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in November 2009, and a team of paleontologists spent four years digging them up and traveling the world to confirm they were a new species. Paleontologists believe the dinosaur lived 80 million years ago in the late Cretaceous Period on a landmass in the flooded central region of North America. Audrey Atuchin, Natural History Museum of Utah, via AP Fullscreen The duck-billed dinosaur known as Edmontosaurus regalis was supposed to be a plain Jane of the Cretaceous. Now scientists have discovered that it actually had a spectacular adornment unique in the dinosaur world. A beautifully preserved new fossil shows Edmontosaurus boasted a party hat of jiggly flesh atop its head. Researchers theorize that like a rooster's coxcomb, the crest was brightly colored and served as a signal to others of its kind. Never before have scientists found such a non-bony crest on a dinosaur. 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Stephanie Abramowicz, Dinosaur Institute, NHM Fullscreen This is a an artist's reconstruction of Aquilops in its environment in ancient Montana. Copyright Brian Engh, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. Fullscreen Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries: Replay Autoplay Show Thumbnails Show Captions Last Slide Next Slide “It appears that a herd of young animals was killed suddenly, wiping out mostly one similar-aged population to create this deposit,” Druckenmiller said.
UA Fairbanks graduate student Hirotsugu Mori completed his doctoral work on the species. Florida State University researcher Gregory Erickson, who specializes in using bone and tooth histology to interpret the paleobiology of dinosaurs, also was part of the study. They published their findings in the “Acta Palaeontologica Polonica,” an international paleontology quarterly journal.
Researchers are working to name other Alaska dinosaurs.
“We know that there’s at least 12 to 13 distinct species of dinosaurs on the North Slope in northern Alaska,” he said. “But not all of the material we find is adequate enough to actually name a new species.”