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Dinosaurs Under the Aurora

Roland A. Gangloff

Publication Year: 2012

In 1961, while mapping rock exposures along the Colville River in Alaska, an oil company geologist would unknowingly find the evidence for a startling discovery. Long before the North Slope of Alaska was being exploited for its petroleum resources it was a place where dinosaurs roamed. Dinosaurs under the Aurora immerses readers in the challenges, stark beauty, and hard-earned rewards of conducting paleontological field work in the Arctic. Roland A. Gangloff recounts the significant discoveries of field and museum research on Arctic dinosaurs, most notably of the last 25 years when the remarkable record of dinosaurs from Alaska was compiled. This research has changed the way we think about dinosaurs and their world. Examining long-standing controversies, such as the end-Cretaceous extinction of dinosaurs and whether dinosaurs were residents or just seasonal visitors to polar latitudes, Gangloff takes readers on a delightful and instructive journey into the world of paleontology as it is conducted in the land under the aurora.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

This book is written not just for the dinosaur enthusiast but for those readers that have an interest in the Arctic and Alaska. The discovery of dinosaurs in the Arctic of Alaska and the subsequent accumulation of a surprisingly rich record of these fossil animals challenged many widely held misconceptions about the...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

To the hundreds of volunteers, teachers, and students that gave their time, sweat, and blood to unearth the story of Alaska’s Arctic dinosaurs, I am eternally thankful. Over my eighteen years of work in Alaska, I benefited greatly from the help and counsel of a host of colleagues. Some of the contributions of a number...

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1. The Arctic Setting

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pp. 1-10

The Arctic coastal plain is crisscrossed by a host of meandering rivers that drain the northern slope of the rugged ancestral Brooks Range to the south. The rivers are pregnant with organic-rich sediment and rush headlong to the northern sea, being fed by melting snowfields and the common cloudbursts that sweep in from the Western...

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2. Tracks Lead the Way: Circumarctic Discoveries from Svalbard to Koryakia

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pp. 11-24

The following account of the history of dinosaur discoveries in the Arctic begins in the Svalbard Archipelago in the eastern Arctic, where the first evidence of Arctic dinosaurs was found, and then proceeds to the western Arctic and sites in Canada’s Arctic Islands...

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3. A Black Gold Rush Sets the Stage for Discovery in Alaska

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pp. 25-39

If you have seen the icon for the Sinclair Oil Company, a silhouette of a four-legged long-neck dinosaur, then you may have concluded that petroleum and dinosaurs go hand in hand. The misconception that petroleum is derived from dinosaurs is still quite prevalent even among those who are not familiar with the Sinclair symbol...

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4. Peregrines, Permafrost, and Bone Beds: Digging Dinosaurs on the Colville River

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pp. 40-66

One can make a case that field research anywhere presents unique challenges. However, having done geologic fieldwork in environments as diverse as the rainforests of southern Mexico and the deserts of California and Nevada, I can say that I find the Arctic of Alaska to be the most challenging of all. Perhaps it is the condensed...

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5. Texas, Teachers, and Chinooks: Taking Fieldwork to a New Level

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pp. 67-85

Over 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) of rugged mountains and high plains separate Alaska’s North Slope and Dallas, Texas, today. Most people would not think of Texas and Alaska as being close in any way. But there is quite a history that brings Alaska and Texas much closer than their current geography would ever suggest. In terms of “deep time,”...

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6. The Arctic during the Cretaceous

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pp. 86-103

North America and the western Arctic as experienced by dinosaurs and their kin were much different places than today. Today we find the planet dominated by large continents with interiors that are relatively far removed from the ocean margins. The oceans are now at what is called a low stand, because significant amounts...

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7. Cretaceous Dinosaur Pathways in the Paleo-Arctic and along the Western Interior Seaway

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pp. 104-114

The record of Cretaceous age dinosaur trackways and their common association with ocean shorelines has been steadily accumulating since the 1940s.1 One of the most impressive and best-known records can be found in central Texas, an area that occupied the southern end of the great Western Interior Seaway. The Early Cretaceous...

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8. Applying New Technologies to the Ancient Past

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pp. 115-127

Over the last three decades new techniques and technologies spawned by revolutions in molecular biology, computers, and microelectronics have had a great impact on paleontology and paleobiology. During my eighteen years of fieldwork on the North Slope and Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska, I went from relying on topographic maps...

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9. Natural Resources, Climate Change, and Arctic Dinosaurs

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pp. 128-135

What could Arctic dinosaur research and short-term solutions to our country’s energy crisis have to do with one another? Can one burn dinosaur bones to produce energy? Are dinosaur fossils an important source of North America’s petroleum? Are dinosaur bones an alternative source of energy to coal and petroleum? The answer to the first...

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10. Future Expansion of the Arctic Dinosaur Record

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pp. 136-144

The southern Alberta buffalo plains greet you with their vast grain and forage fields, slight topographic undulations, endless skies, scattered ranches, and small sleepy towns as you proceed eastward from the hustle and bustle of urban Calgary. If you had no previous knowledge of the region’s geography, within an hour you would...

Glossary

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pp. 145-148

Notes

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pp. 149-158

Literature Cited

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pp. 159-170

Index

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pp. 171-176

Color Plate Insert

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pp. 178-185


E-ISBN-13: 9780253007186
E-ISBN-10: 0253007186
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253000804

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 9 color illus., 63 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Life of the Past

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Subject Headings

  • Dinosaurs -- Alaska.
  • Paleontology -- Cretaceous.
  • Geology, Stratigraphic -- Cretaceous.
  • Geology -- Alaska.
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