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. It is 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. They plotted growth trajectories and compared 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." It 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. They probably walked primarily on their hind legs. But they could walk on four legs, Druckenmiller said.
 
Most of the fossils were found in the Prince Creek Formation of the Liscomb Bone Bed. The area is along the Colville River. It is more than 300 miles northwest of Fairbanks. The bed is named for geologist Robert Liscomb. He found the first dinosaur bones in Alaska in 1961. At the time, he was mapping for Shell Oil Co.
 
Museum scientists have excavated and catalogued more than 6,000 bones from the species. That is more than any other Alaska dinosaur. Most were small juveniles. They were 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." It is 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 scientists 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 (133)
  • Eric0221-YYCA
    9/28/2015 - 08:54 p.m.

    I think that it is cool for scientists to discover a third distinct dinosaur which is a hadrosaur, but the dinosaur's name may sound funny but it is cool that scientists had found a new species off a river of the rich-oil slope in Alaska. The new species of the dinosaur which is distinct dinosaur that may have gotten extincted that may have gotten distinct.

  • John0724-YYCA
    9/28/2015 - 09:29 p.m.

    I think that it is really cool to find a new dinosaur because then people would know more about what kinds of things lived in the past and how they looked like. I think that it is really important to know what happened in the past.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    9/28/2015 - 09:41 p.m.

    I think that it is interesting for a scientist to have found a dinosaur. I think that finding about the Pat Druckenmiller is amazing because finding a new dinosaur is rare to come by. I think that there are more dinosaurs than just a Pat Druckenmiller since Earth is a big place to live in.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    9/28/2015 - 09:50 p.m.

    A new dinosaur species are discovered in Alaska and this new dinosaur is a plant eater. The dinosaur is very unique because it has teeth that are oddly shaped and the dinosaur that they think is a plant eater might have looked like a carnivore.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/28/2015 - 10:01 p.m.

    I think this is cool because finding new dinosaur species are rare. This would contribute greatly to science because there will be more research done about this dinosaur. This new discovery would be awesome to do more research on.
    Why was the dino named “Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis?”
    Answer: The dino was named Ugrunaaluk kuukpikenisis because it was chosen by scientists with assistance from speakers of Inupiaq, the language of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.

  • shaylab-dav
    9/29/2015 - 12:46 p.m.

    Because the dinosaur was really long and tall so it could graze the land and it was alive a really long time.

  • mikec-1-dav
    9/29/2015 - 12:50 p.m.

    The name means "ancient grazer." It was chosen by scientists with assistance from speakers of Inupiaq, the language of Alaska Inupiat Eskimos.

  • mayab-dav
    9/29/2015 - 12:53 p.m.

    I really think that dinos are cool but i dont want them to come back to life after watching jurassic park. anyway the new dino is pretty cool i think that we need to know more about dinos that eat plants because nsome people might think that they might come back and a meat eater people migth be even more scared.

  • andreal-1-dav
    9/29/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    Scientists were comparing it with other dinousaurs like the edmontosaurus bones and decided to call it an australian name as the ancient grazer. :)

  • zackd-ver
    9/29/2015 - 01:33 p.m.

    I am wondering why there are dinosaurs that have duck beaks and I also wonder how scientist had never found those bones before.

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