North Slope Dinosaur Fossils

While we might presume that remains more than 65 million years old would have turned to "solid rock" long ago, that's not true for all dinosaur bones found in northern Alaska. So far, all recovered bones are highly mineralized and discolored by iron oxide, but they still have differences. Some are relatively light and porous while others are heavy and dense. The differences relate to the amounts of minerals, notably silica, which have replaced what was once living cell matter while additionally filling in bone pores. In some specimens, bone cells and pores have been mostly replaced or filled in by minerals. In others, just cell walls and little else have been mineralized leaving many open pores. Thus, bones with less mineral replacement are light and more porous than bones with lots of mineral replacement.

Other Dinosaur (non-bone) Fossils found on the North Slope

  • North Slope, various locations: 1970s and later, mostly limited discoveries of dinosaur skin imprints and footprints in different areas.

  • North Slope, Colville River drainage: 1998 discovery of major trackways which provide evidence of seven different meat- and plant-eating dinosaurs including the oval-shaped tracks of a yet unknown species; the new discoveries date from the Middle Cretaceous, about 90-110 million years ago.

Where to see dinosaur remains from Alaska

  • Black Lake area on Alaska Peninsula: 1975 discovery of 14 dinosaur footprints of Jurassic age (more than 140 million years old), which makes them the oldest dinosaur evidence yet known in Alaska; tracks probably represent two different meat-eaters but specific types are uncertain.

  • Western Talkeetna Mountains: the 1990 discovery of a skull found in a creek bed of late Cretaceous age (68-73 million years old) is an Edmontonia (a Nodosaurid Ankylosaur), a four-legged, plant-eater with leathery and bony armor plates across its back; six feet tall, 23 feet long, four tons weight.

  • Central-Western Talkeetna Mountains: 1994 discovery of a 90-million-year-old hadrosaur (genus uncertain). This discovery includes the most bones from a single dinosaur yet found, but the skull is missing. It is the oldest hadrosaur known in Alaska. The specimen probably was a juvenile or young adult, five-to-six feet tall, nine feet long and 300-400 pounds

Other Dinosaur Fossils found elsewhere in ALaska

  • Alaska Museum of Natural History, 210 N. Bragaw Street, Anchorage, AK 99508
    phone (907) 274-2400
    Display include: fossil skull of the Edmontonia dinosaur found in 1994 in the Central-Western Talkeetna Mountains.
  • Bureau of Land Management Public Information Center, first floor of the Federal Building, 222 W. 7th Ave., Anchorage, phone (907) 271-5960
    Displays include: fossil bone remains from Edmontosaurus dinosaurs, plus interpretive photos and information about Alaska's dinosaurs.
  • University of Alaska Museum, 907 Yukon Drive, Fairbanks, phone (907) 474-7505
    Displays include: fossil bone remains from Edmontosaurus dinosaurs, skin impression from an Arctic dinosaur, cast skull of a Pachyrhinosaurus similar to the one found in Alaska, plus interpretive information.

  • Collecting Fossils on Public Lands