Tech UPTechnologyWere there dinosaurs in the snow?

Were there dinosaurs in the snow?

The trailer for the new movie in the “Jurassic Park” saga shows us dinosaurs inhabiting snowy areas. Fiction usually places dinosaurs in tropical environments, but “Jurassic World: Dominion” has chosen to introduce changes that modify the pigeonholed point of view that the general public usually has about the fascinating Mesozoic species. Not only have we finally been able to see feathered dinosaurs , but we will also witness a way of life developed in a new biome: snow. We already know that fiction can do whatever it sees fit to leave us glued to the screen, but what does science say? Were there dinosaurs in the snow?

The climate in the age of the dinosaurs

We start from an outstanding circumstance that must be taken into account: during the Mesozoic, between 238 and 65 million years ago, our planet did not have the same climate as it does now. To begin with, when the first dinosaurs began to populate the Earth, the entire continental landmass was united in the supercontinent Pangaea . It was then that the continental drift began that would take the Earth to the current arrangement of its continents. A process that lasted until the end of the age of the dinosaurs.

The presence of snow was less because the prevailing climate was warmer and drier than the current one. Still, the dinosaurs had many millions of years to populate every corner of the earth and move along with the continents.

Taking this into account: could dinosaurs survive in cold areas of the planet? Of course yes. Not only survive, but inhabit polar regions.

Dinosaur Fossils in Alaska

Dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the Arctic and Antarctic since the 1950s. Places where, a priori, it was thought that the dinosaurs had not reached or, if they had, it was sporadically and unsuccessfully to adapt and prosper in those conditions.

In Alaska, a team of scientists found fossils belonging to an interesting number of dinosaur species. Remains of herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs appeared in the Prince Creek formation. The clue that shows the ability of dinosaurs to live in the snow is obtained from the discovery of eggshell fragments. The incubation process, which some researchers extend up to six months, and the fact that the offspring were born in cold climates, suggest a greater adaptation than suspected.

The remains are located at a point that must have already been within the Arctic Circle when these dinosaurs lived. Despite a generally warmer climate, these species lived in temperatures between 6 and 2 o C , so that their environment would experience occasional snowfall and, as today, they would spend up to 120 days a year in the dark of winter night.

What dinosaurs lived in the snow?

The remains found belong to large and small taxa. Among them, the hadrosaurids , herbivorous dinosaurs that have a characteristic duck bill, such as the Edmontosaurus and Parasaurolophus species. Precisely, a group of Parasaurolophus appears in the trailer for “Jurassic World: Dominion” running through snowy plains, with Owen Grady and other characters riding at a gallop ready to put a noose around one of these dinosaurs’ necks. In the purest western style. As we see in the trailer for the film, it seems that he manages to catch one.

There were also ceratopsians , horned dinosaurs of the Triceratops type. Pachycephalosaurids , other herbivores that walked on two legs and were distinguished by a very tough bulge on the skull. One of these dinosaurs appeared in the second installment of the saga, “The Lost World”.

On the part of the carnivores that lived in the snow, remains of the most famous family have been detected: tyrannosaurids . Also deinonychosaurs , theropods such as Velociraptor . In “Jurassic World: Dominion,” Blue, the female Velociraptor who interacts with Owen Grady, is also seen in a snowy environment. Perhaps you may have more scientific options than previously thought. And finally, ornithomimosaurs , dinosaurs similar to ostriches, with long necks and legs like Gallimimus .

These dinosaurs coexisted with other mammals and birds capable of resisting climatic conditions. Regarding the way of life, different theories point to a permanent stay or migratory movements . It has even been thought that smaller dinosaurs, incapable of long walks, could have hibernated. On the other hand, the migratory hypothesis bets because the large herbivores that moved in herds, such as the hadrosaurids, would occupy the area only in summer, when the climate was more benevolent.


Druckenmiller, P. et al. 2021. Nesting at extreme polar latitudes by non-avian dinosaurs.  Current Biology 31, 16, 3469-3478. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.05.041.

Mori, H. et al. 2016. A new Arctic hadrosaurid from the Prince Creek Formation (lower Maastrichtian) of northern Alaska. Polish Palaeontological Acta 61, (1), 15-32. DOI: 10.4202/app.00152.2015.



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