Researchers find first actual fossils that confirm their studies as dinosaur bones are discovered in Denali National Park. Denali National Park first started being linked with dinosaurs when researchers discovered the prehistorical animal’s tracks more than a decade ago.
Since then, researchers have been looking for fossils or other remains that would help advance their studies of the Cretaceous Period wanderers and reveal their relation to the area.
The chance to do so came this summer as, in July, a park survey led to the finding of four bone fragments and gave scientists hope for more such discoveries. As the area had been deemed a poor fossil preservation site, paleontologists are now excited and confident that new discoveries will follow.
The park had already revealed an abundance of tracks. A track is the usual name for a dinosaur footprint left in the mud, mark that later solidified and became a rock.
These traces are useful as they can offer scientists information about the animal’s migration areas and also give them an idea of what type of dinosaur lived or fed in the respective zones.
Still, dinosaur bones are more useful in the study of the prehistoric creatures as they can reveal more data about the animal in particular and the species in general.
Pat Druckenmiller, University of Alaska’s Museum of the North’s earth sciences curator and Denali project leading paleontologist, maintained that the bones can reveal a good deal about the animal, even if there are small fragments.
Thus, although the specimens found earlier this year have a maximum length of about 2 inches, they can still reveal physical characteristics. The bones could carry both molecular structure data and growth ring data, which is useful when approximating the animal’s age.
The research team determined, based on one of the found fragments, that one of the bones is an ossified tendon. From there, the team was able to include the fossil as having once belonged to the duckbilled dinosaurs. During the Cretaceous period, the respective species was widespread throughout the territory that is now known as Alaska.
The fossilized bone fragments are similar to present-day bones, as they present a porous and spongy consistency. Although the spongy material usually gets filled with minerals, the fossilized remains can still reveal their porous structure.
The mineral and plant information gathered from them can be equally helpful as it can offer clues as to what the weather and climate of the time were like, and also paint a picture of the animals’ habitat.
The dinosaur bones that were found hinted at a much warmer climate and a lusher area in the Cretaceous period than it is nowadays. They also indicated that the animal was most probably gathered in a herd-like structure, with the hadrosaurs most likely traveling together in larger numbers.
The park investigations will continue for the following years, as researchers are hoping to find new fossils and traces and gain further knowledge about the area and its prehistoric inhabitants.
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