The Oregonian Friday, Dec. 18, 1998
Fossils in arctic hint at much hotter past
The Associated Press
northernmost Canada must have been mild to
have supported the cold‑blooded champosaur 90 million years ago
WASHINGTON ‑The frigid Arctic regions were as balmy as present‑day Florida
90 million years ago, according to researchers who found fossils of a
crocodile‑like animal in northern Canada.
place 600 miles from the North Pole, researchers from the university of
Rochester found fossilized remains of the champosaur, a toothy, 8‑foot‑long
found a whole assemblage of fossils, from both young and adults," said
geophysicist John H. Tarduno, the lead author of a study appearing in
today's edition of the journal Science. "There were also turtles and
champosaur and the turtles are cold‑blooded animals that could have survived
in the current climate of the Canadian Arctic, where the fossils were
found, Tarduno said.
fossils tell us that there had to have been a substantial growing season
there then and that the climate was very unlike the arctic now," he said.
Temperatures at the fossil site now routinely drop to minus‑60 degrees
Fahrenheit in the winter. But when the champosaur lived there
86 million to 92 million years ago, temperatures rarely fell to freezing,
and summertime readings of 80 degrees were common.
think it was typical of what Florida is now," Tarduno said.
had found a champosaur so close to the arctic before, said David B.
Weishampel, a Johns Hopkins University dinosaur expert.
new find suggests that the poles were a lot warmer and more stable then than
they are now," Weishampel said.
closest previous find of champosaur fossils was about 1,000 miles south
of the Canadian location, Tarduno said.
champosaur closely resembled the modem‑day crocodile. It had a long snout,
powerful jaws filled with teeth and a long tail.
Weishampel said the champosaur was probably cold‑blooded, which means it had
little tolerance for cold weather. It also was too small to have migrated