The image above is an artist’s depiction of a new species of duck-billed dinosaur, a 30-footlong herbivore that endured months of winter darkness and probably experienced snow.
The skeletal remains of these dinosaurs were found in an extremely remote part of Alaska by the Florida State University and University of Alaska Fairbanks research team. They are now the northernmost dinosaurs known to have ever lived.
The dinosaur has been named Igrunaaluk kuukpikensis, which means ancient grazer of the Colville River. No worries. We might just need to bring in the British weatherman Liam Dutton to pronounce it for us.
Above: Liam Dutton. Required in assisting with the pronunciation of new dinosaur.
At the time the Igrunaaluk kuukpikensis lived, Arctic Alaska was covered in trees because Earth’s climate was much warmer as a whole. But, because it was so far north, the dinosaurs likely contended with months of winter darkness. This was roughly 70 million years ago.
“What we’re finding is a lost world of dinosaurs with many new forms completely new to science,” said Greg Erickson, the professor of Biological Science at Florida University.
Erickson and other dinosaur professor hunters, such as Patrick Druckenmiller from the University of Alaska, will continue to excavate for addition skeletons in the cold north of Alaska.
Above: A sample of frozen bone from the new winter dinosaur species.
Erickson and Druckenmiller (I’m sorry, that really is a fantastic surname) will also continue to delve into how these animals lived and functioned in conditions not typically thought to be amenable to occupation by reptilian dinosaurs.
“Alaska is basically the last frontier,” said Erickson, who is originally from Alaska. “It’s virtually unexplored in terms of vertebrate palaeontology. So, we think we’re going to find a lot of new species.”
The full skeletons of the Igrunaaluk kuukpikensis will soon be on display at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, as well as a new painting of the species by artist James Havens.
Fuck yes for science. Fuck yes for Alaska. Fuck yes for dinosaurs. I’m excited.