A significant discovery in northwestern Alaska, involving an array of dinosaur tracks and fossilized flora, is offering new insights into the ancient climate and migratory behaviors of dinosaurs. This revelation comes at a time marking the dinosaurs’ initial movements between the Asian and North American continents approximately 100 million years ago.

The research, spearheaded by an international team of scientists led by paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo, was recently published in the journal Geosciences. Fiorillo, who conducted his research while affiliated with Southern Methodist University and is now the executive director of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, collaborated closely with University of Alaska Fairbanks geology professor Paul McCarthy. McCarthy, associated with the UAF Geophysical Institute and UAF College of Natural Science and Mathematics, played a pivotal role in this study, alongside UAF graduate student Eric Orphys and five other co-authors.

This team’s efforts have focused on integrating various scientific disciplines, including sedimentology, dinosaur paleontology, and paleoclimate indicators, across Alaska for the past two decades. Their previous work covered formations dating back to about 70 million years, but the newly studied formation, dating from 90 to 100 million years ago, is of particular significance due to its age.

The formation’s period aligns with the early stages of the Bering Land Bridge, a crucial land connection between Asia and North America. The team’s research aims to unveil the types of animals that utilized this bridge, their methods of usage, and the prevailing conditions during that era.

The study not only enhances our understanding of ancient ecosystems but also has implications for current climate change studies. The mid-Cretaceous period, known as the warmest interval of the Cretaceous, provides a crucial comparison point for today’s warming world.

The focus of the fieldwork, conducted between 2015 and 2017, was the Coke Basin within the Nanushuk Formation. This sedimentary rock layer, stretching across the central and western North Slope, dates back to the mid-Cretaceous period, approximately 94 million to 113 million years ago. The site offers a unique glimpse into what high-latitude ecosystems resembled during a warmer phase of Earth’s history, contributing valuable information to the ongoing discourse on climate change and ancient biogeography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *