Fossils of a plant-eating dinosaur discovered in the high Arctic of Alaska could change scientists' idea on dinosaur physiology.

The duck-billed dinosaur called Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, which means "ancient grazer" in Inupiaq, the language of the Inupiat Eskimos in Alaska, lived in the cold region and loved the snow.  It grew up to 30 feet in length and had hundreds of teeth that allowed it to gnaw on course vegetation.

The remains of the prehistoric animal that was found along Alaska's Colville River hint that the dinosaur was a distant species of hadrosaur that primarily walked on their hind legs but can also move on all fours.

It is believed that the dinosaur was specially adapted to living in colder climates and supports a theory of Arctic-adapted dinosaurs that thrived 69 million years ago in temperatures that are far cooler compared with the tropical temperature that most people have come to associate dinosaurs with.

Although scientists still have a lot to learn about the metabolism of these creatures, most people think of dinosaurs as fairly tropical animals such as the lizards that exist today.

The newly discovered northern hadrosaurs are believed to have endured months of winter darkness and possibly even snow.

At the time that these creatures lived in the region, the average temperature was in the low 40's, which is pretty chilly when it comes to reptilian standards prompting the researchers to believe that the species had special adaptations to survive in the cold.

Florida State biological science professor Gregory Erickson said that it was a lost world of dinosaurs that scientists did not realize existed.

"It was certainly not like the Arctic today up there - probably in the 40s (5 to 9 degrees Celsius) was the mean annual temperature," Erickson said. "'Probably a good analogy is thinking about British Columbia."

Pat Druckenmiller, from the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks, said that the Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis lived at the very edge of what scientists think dinosaurs are physiologically capable of.

The dinosaurs also appeared to be incredibly abundant about 70 million years ago. Researchers have so far discovered about 10,000 bones from the species.  

The researchers said that if they manage to figure out how this creature was different from its close relatives that live in balmier regions, it would be possible for them to know how these new species survived in the cold.

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