New dinosaur tracks could help explain how to cope with climate change
The prints of species like ankylosaur, armored and herbivorous; theropod, a ‘beast-footed’ carnivore; and hadrosaur, a duck-billed herbivore, have been analyzed by paleontologist Tony Fiorillo and his team
Paleontologists uncovered 30 new dinosaur tracks from three species after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit southern Alaska in July last year. These prints could give clues on how the giant, extinct reptiles adapted to the changing climate, per The Washington Post.
Discovered along the isolated Aniakchak Bay, the temperature in this region was warmer 75 million years ago — similar to modern-day Portland or Seattle, with very little snow but abundant rain, according to NPR.
The prints of species like ankylosaur, armored and herbivorous; theropod, a “beast-footed” carnivore; and hadrosaur, a duck-billed herbivore, have been analyzed by paleontologist Tony Fiorillo and his team.
“I’m very excited because it allows us to do a statistical analysis with the robust data,” said Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, a paleontology professor at Japan’s Hokkaido University Museum who is a part of Fiorillo’s team, per the Post. “With a few (prints), it’s like you’re sharing a whisper from dinosaurs, but if you have a huge number, it’s like screaming. The dinosaurs are telling us something.”
Kobayashi has been making yearly trips to the region since his first visit in 2001, when he identified a “70 million-year-old, three-toed impression of a duck-billed dinosaur,” he wrote for Science Trends in 2019.
“And given the abundance of dinosaur tracks we’ve found compared to the few human footprints we’ve left behind, I can’t help but wonder if, through geologic time, Aniakchak has known more dinosaurs than people,” he wrote.
One of his recent studies takes a look at how the mean annual precipitation influenced where dinosaurs lived instead of the mean annual temperature.
Research does suggest that the effects of winter may have contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs.
“So I guess the bottom line is that we just don’t want to be dinosaurs,” said Kobayashi in an interview with NPR. “And we just want — have to find out how we can cope with keeping the environment as long as we can for next generations.”