It had long periods of the winter twilight, chilling temperatures and frequently inadequate reserves, but an arrangement of fragile fossils indicates dinosaurs not only wandered the Arctic but hatched and brought up their children there too.
While dinosaur fossils have formerly been found in the Arctic, it was ambiguous whether they dwelled there year-round or were seasonal travellers.
Now specialists say hundreds of fossils from extremely young dinosaurs recouped from northern Alaska implies the animals produced in the area, implying it was their permanent dwelling.
Prof Gregory Erickson, of palaeontology at Florida State University and a co-author of the study, said the finding was akin to a prehistoric maternity precinct, amplifying it was very extraordinary to discover the remains of such young dinosaurs because they are so tiny and fragile.
“We were amazed when we found the tiny fossils,” he said. “We doubted they were nesting in the Arctic but didn’t predict recouping proof of this behaviour.”
In the journal Current Biology, Erickson and collaborators documented how their analysis of fossils reclaimed from the Upper Cretaceous Prince Creek Formation in a sequel of excursions stretching a decade and pertained to the practice of impressive netting meshes to refine residues.
Though remains from dinosaurs have formerly been found in the arrangement, none exhibited any indication of reproduction.
But a recent study has revealed the finding of tiny teeth and bones from young dinosaurs, comprising those who were just about to hatch or had previously done so.
The fossils, dating to around 70m years ago, came from enormous and small-bodied dinosaurs coating at least seven various species – comprising duck-billed and horned dinosaurs. Teeth were also found from a young tyrannosaur, said Erickson, perhaps just six months old.
“We have accumulated a corpse of proof that demonstrates not just one of the dinosaurs was nesting up there, but it looks like nearly all of them, if not all of them,” he said.
While the conclusions rule out the notion that dinosaurs only walked north after reproduction, Erickson added that young hatched in the Arctic would have been too tiny to wander south for the winter.
Dr Stephen Brusatte, of palaeontology at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the research, said the research was groundbreaking, adding that while the fossils are tiny, their importance is enormous.