Nanuqsaurus means "polar bear lizard" from the Alaskan Inupiat word "Nanuq" in recognition of its role as top predator in the Arctic. It is a tyrannosaurid dinosaur ("tyrant lizard") that is very closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex but about half the size, prompting the nickname 'polar pygmy'.
Identification Level: Genus
Scientists recently realized that theropod bones found on Alaska's North Slope of Alaska belonged to a new genus: Nanuqsaurus. Geographic proximity, rock age, and foot shape suggest that this fearsome predator likely roamed Denali as well.
What is for dinner?
Being top predator in the region meant many other dinosaurs could have been on the menu. However, if prey species migrated seasonally, Nanuqsaurus may have had plenty to eat in the summer and been left searching for food in the winter.
How do we know I lived in Denali?
Dozens of medium-sized three-toed theropod tracks have been found in Denali. The larger of these tracks were attributed to an unnamed small relative of Tyrannosaurus rex until 2014 when Nanuqsaurus became the most likely candidate.
Fun FactNanuqsaurus, known from bones from northern Alaska, was likely the top predator in the ancient floodplain ecosystem that is now preserved within Denali.
Last updated: August 16, 2016