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 10.18.17

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AL*ASK*A SCIENTIST

We regret that we are no longer accepting new questions for our Alaska Scientist section. Please enjoy the past questions and answers, and thank you to those who have contributed questions or assisted with answers.

Q: How did Arctic plant-eating dinosaurs find food during long, dark winters?

- Brian Lax, Anchorage

A: Scientists are still debating the issue. There are three major hypotheses:

  1. The dinosaurs didn’t eat during winter, because they could live off stored foods during a “deep sleep” or hibernation-type state.
  2. They migrated short distances toward shorelines, where it would be warmer and where there were other food sources, such as kelp.
  3. The dinosaurs migrated great distances for a milder climate and food sources.

The idea that dinosaurs may have migrated to shorelines during winter is a distinct possibility. The first seagrasses were developing during the late Cretaceous (when dinosaurs were around). And today, sheep in the Orkney Islands, off Great Britain, are known to feed on kelp. As for longer migrations (hypothesis 3), my colleagues and I feel that current evidence strongly suggests dinosaurs wouldn’t have gone that far.

- Roland Gangloff, Interim Curator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North



Past Questions

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