BREAKING NEWS – July 14, 2006!! Teachers and researchers discover several new dinosaur tracks in Denali, including the largest track yet at almost 20 inches in length!

As part of a Murie Science & Learning Center teacher training, the group made the discovery while surveying new areas of the Cantwell formation. The latest news release is posted below.

August 7, 2006 PRESS RELEASE

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Discovery of New Dinosaur Evidence in Denali National Park and Preserve

The search for dinosaur material at Denali National Park and Preserve has continued with great success in the 2006 field season, which began in early June. Eighteen more trace fossil sites have been located in the Igloo Canyon and Double Mountain vicinities of the park. The majority of the finds have been theropods, (meat-eating dinosaurs that walked on their hind legs), however several hadrosaur footprints, popularly known as duck-billed dinosaurs, have also been discovered. This discovery is very exciting as theropods are thought to have preyed on hadrosaurs, and this new evidence provides a beginning for understanding the ecosystem of Denali 70 million years ago. Among the twenty total sites found so far in the park, four different-sized theropod tracks have been found, and several new bird tracks as well. The largest of the tracks is approximately 20 by 20 inches or 50 by 50 cm.

The search for dinosaur evidence has been ongoing for four years, and the recent finds are a welcome reward. The number of tracks and the quality of preservation in some specimens greatly exceed expectations. Some of the rock surfaces are so littered with tracks and partial tracks that Dr. Tony Fiorillo of the Dallas Museum of Natural History, and the principal investigator on the project, has referred to them as “Cretaceous dance floors.”

Whereas most of this summer’s discoveries were made by trained geologists and graduate students, some of the new finds took place during a teacher workshop on dinosaurs offered through the Murie Science and Learning Center in early July. The education course was specifically designed to examine the dinosaur history of Denali. Photographs and information about the class’ discoveries can be found at www.murieslc.org.

Additional discoveries are expected as the field portion of the project continues, and as the information is examined by cooperating investigators.

Researchers were tantalized last year by the first evidence of dinosaurs in Denali and Interior Alaska, when two dinosaur footprints and multiple avian (bird) tracks were found at two different locations in a type of sedimentary rock known as the Cantwell Formation.

Additional Information

To learn more about dinosaurs of North America visit:
Dinosaur National Park.
Musuem of Paleontology, University of California, Berkley.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

May 2006 Press Release: New Fossil Discoveries in Denali National Park

The discovery of a second dinosaur track and footprints of prehistoric wading birds in Denali National Park and Preserve was announced during the Geological Society of America regional conference that took place earlier this month in Anchorage . The new track fossils were discovered last summer on Double Mountain, which is approximately ten miles south of the Sanctuary River Campground located at Mile 23 on the Denali Park Road. The more recent find includes a partial impression of a theropod, a meat-eater who roamed the area approximately 70 million years ago. A track of the same type of animal was discovered in July 2005 near the Igloo Campground.

The newer track is from an individual of approximately the same size, with a track measuring approximately six by nine inches, but a portion of the toes are missing. It does contain more detail, as it includes an impression of the foot pads.

The other new tracks were left by medium-sized wading birds. What were originally thought by the scientists to be impressions left by the impact of raindrops were determined to be depressions left by the birds’ beaks as they probed into the mud for food. This may be the first known fossil evidence of this activity.

The discoveries were made by Dr. Anthony Fiorillo, curator of earth sciences at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, Phil Brease, Denali National Park geologist, Brent Breithaupt of the University of Wyoming, and Linda Stromquist from the National Park Service Regional Office in Anchorage. The impressions were left in the Cantwell formation, a rock type found in many areas of the park.B

Hadrosaur track discovered on July 14, 2006.

Last summer’s discovery was the first evidence of dinosaurs found in Denali National Park and Preserve. It confirmed the theory that the Cantwell formation should contain dinosaur remains due to its age and geological properties. The more recent finds will fuel continued paleontological efforts in the park.

Trace fossil bird beak depressions in mud -Double Mountain site.

Bird tracks found on Double Mountain.

Hold your cursor over the above photographs for the caption.