New species of dinosaur uncovered in Alaska In this 2015 photo released by the University of Alaska Museum of the North, a handful of dinosaur bones are seen after they were discovered at the Liscomb Bonebed on the Colville River, near Nuiqsut , Alaska. Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have found a third distinct dinosaur species documented on Alaska's oil-rich North Slope. The new species is a type of hadrosaur, a duck-billed plant-eater. (Pat Druckenmiller/UA Museum of the North via AP)
New species of dinosaur uncovered in Alaska
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Researchers have uncovered a species of plant-eating dinosaur in Alaska.
 
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 Edmontosaurus bones.
 
Researchers have dubbed the creature Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis (oo-GROO-nah-luk KOOK-pik-en-sis). 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 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 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 long and 3 feet tall at the hips.
 
"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.
 
The researchers said that at least 12 to 13 distinct species of dinosaurs lived on the North Slope in northern Alaska but they have not been able to retrieve enough material to name another species.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was the dino named “Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis?”
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (29)
  • travisb-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    The dino was named “Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis" because it means "ancient grazer" and the dino was a herbivore.

  • lances-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    The dino was named Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis because it means ancient grazer.

  • garretta-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    The dino was named Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis because the scientists and researchers who uncovered this animals bones wanted to show gratitude to the natives of Alaska, and named the dinosaur something with their language.

  • kolbyd-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    The dino was named Urgrunaaluk kuukpikensis because it means ancient grazer and they grazers that lived along time ago.

  • coled-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:29 p.m.

    CTQ: It was named this because it means "ancient grazer", which scientists believe that this dinosaur was a roaming species.

    Think of nomads, but if nomads were dinosaurs.

  • hollyk-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    The dino was named "Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis" because it means "ancient grazer" and was chosen from scientist who could speak Inupiaq, which was the language of of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.

  • donovanl-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    The dino was named "Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis" because the name means "ancient grazer" in the language of the Inupiat Eskimos.

  • elizabetht-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    The new species of dinosaur was named “Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis” because in the language of Alaska, being that of Inupiaq it means "ancient grazer". It was named this because it was an herbivore.

  • courtneyh-1-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    The Dino was named "Ugrunaaluk kuukpikikensis" because it means "A

  • helenaw-fel
    10/19/2015 - 02:33 p.m.

    The dino was named Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis because that means ancient grazer in Inupiaq which is the language of the Inupiat eskimos.

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