Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have made an exciting discovery in Denali National Park and Preserve. They have uncovered and documented the largest known single dinosaur track site in Alaska, which they have named “The Coliseum”. The site spans the equivalent of one-and-a-half football fields and contains a treasure trove of dinosaur footprints dating back approximately 70 million years.
This significant finding and detailed descriptions of The Coliseum have been published in the journal Historical Biology. The site provides a unique window into the history of various dinosaur species that once thrived in Interior Alaska. Initially, the site appeared unremarkable, but when viewed in the right sunlight, the dinosaur footprints stand out and are described as “beautiful” by the researchers.
In addition to the dinosaur tracks, the research team also found fossilized plants, pollen grains, and evidence of freshwater shellfish and invertebrates. These discoveries offer valuable insights into the environment that existed during the time of the dinosaurs. It appears that the area was part of a large river system with ponds and lakes nearby, similar to the climate of the Pacific Northwest.
The team documented a variety of dinosaur species at The Coliseum, including large plant-eating duck-billed and horned dinosaurs, raptors, tyrannosaurs, and small wading birds. This diverse collection of tracks showcases the rich biodiversity that once inhabited the region.
Preserving fossil sites like The Coliseum is of utmost importance to the National Park Service. By protecting these sites from disturbance and theft, they can ensure that future generations can appreciate and study these remarkable finds in their geologic context. Furthermore, allowing visitors to explore and learn from these sites contributes to a greater understanding and appreciation of our prehistoric past.
The researchers are keen to continue collaborating with the National Park Service in further studying The Coliseum and other track sites. They believe there is still a lifetime of exploration and potential surprises awaiting discovery. With their ongoing efforts, they hope to uncover even more secrets from Alaska’s ancient history.
The discovery of The Coliseum adds to the growing body of knowledge about dinosaurs in Alaska and highlights the state’s rich paleontological heritage. It serves as a reminder that there is much more to discover about our planet’s past and the fascinating creatures that roamed the Earth millions of years ago.
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