Dinosaurs: Under the Aurora

Dinosaurs: Under the Aurora

Dinosaurs: Under the Aurora

Dinosaurs: Under the Aurora

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 ecology, biology, and biogeography of these fascinating beasts. These high-latitude discoveries also called into question the simplistic extinction scenarios that were advanced during the 1960s and ’70s and that continue to fuel debate today. the Arctic of Alaska presented the author with unusual and exhilarating challenges. Some of the greatest difficulties stemmed from the size and remoteness of Alaska. However, the demands of working within the idiosyncratic world of Alaskan politics and economics make research of any kind in Alaska a truly unique experience. the reader will not only be treated to the excitement and exigencies that accompany paleontological field research in the Arctic environment but will also gain an understanding of just how the scientific process and scientists really work. in addition, the reader will get a feel and taste for Alaska, the place.

The first part of this story summarizes the last fifty years of the Arctic discovery of dinosaurs, whose remains are scattered throughout the vast circumarctic region. Then it goes on to describe Alaska’s dinosaur record and to tell the fascinating story of their almost nondiscovery and its impact on the dinosaur extinction debate. Next, the narrative takes readers to the North Slope, introducing them to the methods and related challenges of fieldwork in Alaska’s Arctic and detailing the extraordinary collection of dinosaur remains that has been accrued over the last twenty-five years. After placing these fossils and their interpretation in proper geologic, biologic, and time perspective, the book takes up the broader impacts and possible future directions of research on dinosaurs in Arctic Alaska and the rest of the circumarctic, considering how new technologies, global climate change, and the “cold war” that is erupting over the natural resources that have been sequestered beneath Arctic ice for eons may impact future research.

It is hoped that the reader will gain a new perspective on Alaska, the Arctic, and the scientific process and come away with a sense of how much has been learned about dinosaurs and their polar world some seventy million years ago.

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