Original Paper

Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 495-501

The last polar dinosaurs: high diversity of latest Cretaceous arctic dinosaurs in Russia

  • Pascal GodefroitAffiliated withDepartment of Palaeontology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences Email author 
  • , Lina GolovnevaAffiliated withKomarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • , Sergei ShchepetovAffiliated withKomarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • , Géraldine GarciaAffiliated withInstitut International de Paléoprimatologie et Paléontologie Humaine, Evolution et Paléoenvironnements, Faculté des Sciences, CNRS UMR 6046–IPHEP, Université de Poitiers
  • , Pavel AlekseevAffiliated withKomarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences

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Abstract

A latest Cretaceous (68 to 65 million years ago) vertebrate microfossil assemblage discovered at Kakanaut in northeastern Russia reveals that dinosaurs were still highly diversified in Arctic regions just before the Cretaceous–Tertiary mass extinction event. Dinosaur eggshell fragments, belonging to hadrosaurids and non-avian theropods, indicate that at least several latest Cretaceous dinosaur taxa could reproduce in polar region and were probably year-round residents of high latitudes. Palaeobotanical data suggest that these polar dinosaurs lived in a temperate climate (mean annual temperature about 10°C), but the climate was apparently too cold for amphibians and ectothermic reptiles. The high diversity of Late Maastrichtian dinosaurs in high latitudes, where ectotherms are absent, strongly questions hypotheses according to which dinosaur extinction was a result of temperature decline, caused or not by the Chicxulub impact.

Keywords

Polar dinosaurs Late Cretaceous Extinction Russia