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Flora and Fauna of the Ancient Yukon

March 3, 2012

Plant leaf fossils from the upper Bonnet Plume Formation, Yukon Territory, Canada

The Arctic region of Canada has extensive Mesozoic rock exposures with considerable potential to produce information on Arctic dinosaur faunas. In 2008 and 2009, a field crew from the Royal Ontario Museum and the Yukon Government Palaeonotology Program mounted a series of expeditions to the Late Cretaceous and Early Palaeogene deposits of the  Bonnet Plume Formation, Yukon Territory, Canada. In the 1960’s several small duck-billed dinosaur bones were recovered by geologists, but the area had been little explored since. Although fossils were not plentiful, we were successful in recovering non-hadrosaurid ornithopod bones of Maastrichtian age, and a rich fossil plant site dating to the early Palaeogene. The plant site provides a rich new data point on the ancient arctic climate, indicating lush forests approximately 60 million years ago. The fieldwork was supported by the NRC Polar Continental Shelf Project, and would have been impossible to conduct without their logistical support.

We published our work in a pair of papers that just came out in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences:

Vavrek, M. J.D. C. Evans, D. R. Braman, N. E. Campione, and G. D. Zazula. 2012. A Paleogene flora from the upper Bonnet Plume Formation of northeast Yukon Territory, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 49:(3) 547-558. doi 10.1139/e11-073

Evans, D. C., M. J. Vavrek, D. R. Braman, N. E. Campione, T. A. Dececchi, and G. D. Zazula. 2012. Vertebrate Fossils (Dinosauria) from the Bonnet Plume Formation, Yukon Territory, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences: 49:(2) 396-411. doi 10.1139/e11-064

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