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Giant sauropods lived in polar conditions in world’s coldest region, say scientists

By 0 and 0 and 0
11 December 2019


Zauropod. Artistic reconstruction of Andrey Atuchin.

The find is proof of the northernmost known long-necked sauropods, says a new study. Evidence has been found of both adult and baby teeth, seen as proof that these huge dinosaurs not only visited this site - at 62 degrees north - but lived here.

At the time this was a polar region.  

Teeth of adult sauropods

Tooth of juvenile sauropod

Teeth of adult sauropods (top) and tooth of juvenile sauropod (bottom) found at Teete locality. Pictures: Alexander Averyanov et al.

Earlier there had been theories that the giants - double the size of the extinct woolly mammoth - may have migrated to this area of modern-day Yakutia in favourable conditions, but did not permanently reside there in unfavourable climatic conditions.

New evidence showed that the Teete locality was the site whey they over a period of time, as it is seen as very unlikely that pregnant females or very young dinosaurs could tolerate temporary migrations over long distances. 

The teeth are dated to the Early Cretaceous - about 145 - 125 million years ago.

Map of Teete locality
Teete locality in Yakutia marked on the world map

The discovery concerning the herbivores at Teete was made by a joint team of Russian and German scientists, and is highlighted in Lethaia (International Journal of Palaeontology and Stratigraphy). 

These findings raise intriguing questions for scientists of how these dinosaurs lived in polar areas just shy of the Arctic Circle. 

While warmer than now, with an average annual temperature of perhaps 14C, the area would have still had a long polar night, limiting growth of plants on which the sauropods depended.

Evidence of stegosaurs has been found here, too, including juveniles. 

Dr Pavel Skutschas is screen-washing the bone-bearing deposits. Picture: Dmitry Vitenko

The Cretaceous necropolis was discovered in 1960 by Soviet geologist Vladimir Filatov.

Later a collection of reptiles were found here, with research led by Petr Kolosov, chief research fellow of the Institute of Institute of Diamond and Precious Metals Geology, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Scientists. 

In 2017, an expeditionary team led by St. Petersburg University associate professor Pavel Skuchas screen-washed 500 kg of bone-bearing deposits in Teete, resulting in the discovery of numerous remains of small vertebrates, including fish, salamanders, turtles, lizards, as well as the dinosaur teeth and animal reptiles and mammals. 

Stegosaurus bones found at Teete

Stegosaurus bones found at Teete

Part of scapula (top) and a spike (bottom) of Stegosaurus found at Teete locality by Petr Kolosov. Pictures: SakhaMedia

The discovery of turtles was announced earlier this year

At the time, Russian paleobiologist Dr Pavel Skutschas, from St Petersburg State University, said: 'The fact of the presence of turtles is very interesting.

'It shows that there was no cold at that time in this area, despite the fact that these are polar regions. These are the most northern finds of non-sea turtles.'

Turtle bone

3D reconstruction of the skull

Skull bone of the turtle found at Teete. 3D reconstruction of the turtle's skull. Pictures: Pavel Skutschas

Dr Petr Kolosov said the Teete site was unique. 

'There are hundreds of known localities with the remains of dinosaurs and other groups of vertebrates around the world,' he said.

'But only a few of them lie in the region of the polar latitudes of the Mesozoic era. 

'Among them, only four localities belong to the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous time. Three are in the southern hemisphere and only one in the northern. This one is Teete.'

Petr Kolosov

GV of Teete site in 2002
Petr Kolosov (top) and the general view of Teete locality in 2002. Pictures: SakhaMedia, YSIA

The sauropod research team comprised:

-Alexander Averianov (Zoological Institute RAS, St Pete),

-Pavel Skutschas, Veniamin Kolchanov, Dmitry Vitenko (Vertebrate Zoology Department, SPbSU, St Pete),

-Rico Schellhorn, Thomas Martin (Institute of Geoscienes, Section Palaeontology, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms- Universität Bonn),

-Alexey Lopatin (Borissiak Palaeontological Institute RAS, Moscow),

-Petr Kolosov (Institute of Diamond and Precious Metals Geology, SB RAS, Yakutsk),

Dmitry Grigoriev (Russian State Geological Prospecting University, Moscow).

Comments (5)

Would it have been possible for ,HUMANS, to have used theses , MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS? OR , where did they migrate to after leaving , SIBERIA? Thank you...
20/05/2020 20:38
The dinosaur article was really interesting. I loved it. May I find more good articles like that again.
bill smith jr. , usa
21/12/2019 12:14
They must not have protested against global cooling.
James, Alaska
17/12/2019 00:56
suppose Siberia was not always cold and snow and ice. these creatures needed more then licking ice and snow for lunch or dinner...
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
16/12/2019 15:58
Amazing discovery in Yakutia. I've always wondered if giant sauropods also lived in what is now Yakutia, Siberia. Now it's confirmed that these giants lived there indeed. :) Greetings from the Netherlands. :)
Erik de Wilde, Hulsberg, the Netherlands
12/12/2019 18:58

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