Tracking Alaska's Jurassic Dinosaurs
DECEMBER 2010 - This is the story of how museum researchers confirmed the discovery of fossilized dinosaur tracks from the Jurassic Period on the Alaska Peninsula, pushing the record of dinosaurs in Alaska back about 50 million years.
In 1975, geologists mapping the rocks near Chignik Bay discovered what appeared to be three-toed dinosaur tracks on a sandstone cliff. The group photographed the site but did not collect any other data. Thirty-five years later, earth sciences curator Pat Druckenmiller and a team of scientists set out to find the location and fully document the site.
Planning the expedition in a remote and mountainous terrain famous for a high density of coastal brown bears was challenging. The team found the site after only two days of searching, but the track layer was tilted nearly vertically and could only be reached with climbing equipment.
Once they reached the site, the team made replicas of each track for study and exhibit back at the museum. The findings provide an entirely new chapter in the story of the life that once existed in Alaska, and Druckenmiller hopes to return to the site in the near future. “We are pretty sure there are other surprises waiting for us out there.”
Produced by Roger Topp with footage filmed on location by Kevin May, Tracking Alaska’s Jurassic Dinosaurs takes you to the scene of the find.