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Arctic Dinosaurs

Program Overview


NOVA explores how dinosaurs may have survived in extreme polar environments and what may have driven them to extinction.

The program:

  • follows a team of scientists to a remote Alaskan dig site high above the Colville River where paleontologists have discovered dozens of dinosaurs.

  • reports that scientists are using fossil finds from two Alaskan sites—the Kikak-Tegoseak quarry and the Lipscomb Bonebed—to piece together how dinosaurs may have lived during the late Cretaceous period 70 million years ago.

  • notes that the finds challenge the typical picture of dinosaurs as cold-blooded reptiles living in warm environments.

  • shows how scientists excavate and then close off a cliff tunnel in winter, while the ground is frozen, to return in summer to mine the tunnel for dinosaur fossils.

  • follows scientists as they excavate and prepare a Pachyrhinosaurus skull for shipping to Texas for further study.

  • explains how one paleobotanist uses leaf shapes and tree rings to determine ancient temperatures and seasonal changes.

  • reports the paleobotanist's finding that the polar climate during the Cretaceous period was warmer than it is today.

  • features a trace fossil expert who recreates what the polar environment may have been like when the dinosaurs lived.

  • shows how one scientist analyzes hadrosaur bones for clues to dinosaur metabolism and concludes that the hadrosaur was active year-round.

  • points out that if polar dinosaurs had already adapted to living in cooler and darker environments, then they may have been able to survive the environment that formed after the massive asteroid strike thought to have caused their extinction.

  • suggests other events that may have contributed to dinosaur extinction.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after program is recorded off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Arctic Dinosaurs
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