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North by Northwest (was Polar Sauropods )



Hey Everybody,

The thread on polar dinosaurs has touched on a subject I do have some direct knowledge of, for a change.

Dr. Roland Gangloff of the University of Alaska spoke at the 5th Conference on Fossil Resources in Rapid City, SD in October this year. I was fortunate enough to attend this event along with the Director of the Grand River Museum, Dr. Steven Sroka. Dr. Gangloff, Dr. Sroka, and I also had a number of private conversations that were both exciting and informative regarding his work on the Ikpikpuk River basin, and the Colville River basin ( 16 dinosaur material distinctive sites ).

In Dr. Gangloff's presentation he cited several localities where dinosaur fossils are abundant. He specifically was focusing on the National Petroleum Reserve which encompasses more than 25,000 square miles north of the arctic circle. His work began in 1985 leading to more than 3,000 prepared and curated vertebrate fossils, most dinosaurian of late Cretaceous origin. In 1990 the Arctic Alaska Dinosaur Program was formed as a cooperative venture between the BLM and the Earth Sciences Dept. At the U of Alaska. In 1997 there was a discovery of an older site, and the first known dinosaur trackways of lower to mid Cretaceous Nanushuk group.

The following is a listing of dinosaur species positively identified;
A. Hadrosaurs
Edmontosaurs - juveniles and young adults dominate
Kritosaurus - teeth only
Lambeosaurid - teeth and upper jaw
B. Ceratopsians
Pachyrihinosaurus a rare form found only in Alaska and Alberta
Archiceratops - part of rear of skull
C. Hypsilophodontid
Thescelosaurus - teeth and bone
D. Thropods
1. Tyrannosaurids
Albertosaurus - numerous teeth and rare bones
Tyrannosaurus - a singe tooth
2. Troodontid
Troodon - isolated teeth and fragmented skull
3. Dromaeosaurids
Dromaeosaurus - isolated teeth
Saurornitholestes - isolated teeh and vertebra

Also Dr. Gangloffs' work has recovered fish, turtle, and plesiosaur, but notes that crocodilians are absent. Multituberculates, Eutherian, and Metatherian material has also been recovered. Among plants: wood from Xenoxylem latiporosum & 6 other conifer taxa, needles and fronds of Parataxodium wigginsi, rushes of Equisetites sp as casts, angiosperms Hollicka quercifolia as leaf and fruit impressions and Quuereuxia angukata as leaf impressions.

(ref. Roland A. Gangloff, "Paleontological and Archaeological Research in the Eastern Third of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a Call for Symbiosis", Dakoterra Volume 5, 1998, ed. J.E. Martin, L.W. Hoganson, R.C. Benton)
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Dr. Gangloff talked of huge bonebeds at several of the sites, new techniques for recovering fossils from permafrost, and a number of other subjects that highlighted the fact that much of the arctic regions of the world remain virgin territory for fossil exploration. His excitement over the discovery and extent of the trackways was at the very least contagious. He reported clear impressions of pad marks and possible Ankylosaur trackways.

While none of this has anything to do with Jurassic Sauropod nesting in the arctic zones these facts need to be pointed out:

The arctic regions have not been surveyed for fossils on scale anywhere near as extensively as the temperate regions.

The Antarctic is covered by an extensive and thick ice sheet that prevents extensive fossil survey in much of the interior.

Unless global warming completely eliminates the ice sheet from both Antarctica and Greenland the data needed to compile specific distribution will be incomplete.