Photo Gallery: Unpacking the Fossils

At a recent Open House at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Earth Science Curator Pat Druckenmiller unpacked plaster jackets full of dinosaur fossils. A large plaster crate was full of hadrosaur fossils collected on Alaska’s North Slope, along the banks of the Colville River (Prudhoe Bay area).

“These are all dinosaur bones, and more specifically from a plant-eating duck-billed dinosaur,” Druckenmiller said. “The bones of many individuals are preserved in a layer of rock we call a bone bed; this block of rock is a chunk of that bone bed we literally sawed out of the frozen ground and brought back to the museum to work on. Most of the dinosaurs in this bone bed are juveniles, only 10-12 feet long!”

The fossils are about 70 million years old, from the Late Cretaceous Period.

The earth science team also worked on a smaller plaster piece, part of a marine reptile – a plesiosaur – from Montana that was collected last summer on the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. “We have nearly the entire skeleton here at the museum and our initial observations suggest it is a new species,” Druckenmiller said.”This animal is also from the Late Cretaceous, about 70 million years old.”

From University of Alaska Museum of the North (Showing 16 of 1088 items)

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The University of Alaska Museum of the North is a popular visitor attraction, a vital component of the university and the only research and teaching museum in Alaska. The museum’s collection – 1.4 million artifacts and specimens – represents millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of cultural traditions. The collections are organized into 10 disciplines (archaeology, birds, documentary film, earth sciences, ethnology, fine arts, fishes, insects, mammals, and plants) and serve as a resource for research on climate change, contaminants and other issues facing the circumpolar North.

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