Friday, July 18, 2014

Duck-bills in Denali

My favorite scene in the film "Jurassic Park" is when the herd of dinosaurs runs by (CLIP HERE). Something similar happened in Denali National Park in Alaska, U.S., during the Late Cretaceous period (between 100 and 66 million years ago). The site contains thousands of tracks from hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs, many with preserved skin and nail impressions (IMAGE ABOVE). The footprints range in size from 5" (12 cm) to 24" (60 cm), indicating that babies, juveniles, adult females, and adult males ran together (PHOTO SHOWING SIZE SCALE HERE). The discovery of the tracksite shows that hadrosaurs not only lived in high altitudes of the polar ecosystem year round, but that they also lived together in a group. Paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, quips, "We had mom, dad, big brother, big sister and little babies all running around together. As I like to tell the park, Denali was a family destination for millions of years, and now we've got the fossil evidence for it."

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