Troodon

a wolf walks towards the camera on a gravel road
Like wolves, troodons were fast and fierce predators and considered one of the smartest dinosaurs. It has been suggested that they may have traveled in packs and utilized a combination of cunning and cooperative behavior to take down prey of greater body size.

NPS photo / Nathan Kostegian

 
a computer image of a troodon running
Troodon were small, smart, bird-like and feathered members of the theropod group of dinosaurs. Theropod is Greek for "beast foot", Troodon for "wounding tooth". Troodontids are very close relatives of modern birds.

Identification level: Genus
The theropods found in Alaska thus far are grouped into four main families that all lived during the Cretaceous Period: tyrannosaurids, troodontids, dromaesaurids and ornithomimids. Troodon teeth have been found throughout Alaska and Troodon footprints resemble some of the fossil theropod footprints in Denali, making it likely that Troodon was one variety of theropod that lived here.
 
white ruler next to a two toed track in a rock

Photo by Tony Fiorillo

What is for dinner?
Troodon were cunning and opportunistic in their feeding. They probably fed on anything they could snap up, preying heavily on smaller species and hunting the younger animals of the larger hadrosaur, ceratopsian, and pachycephalosaur species.

How do we know I lived in Denali?
Many dozens of small and medium-sized theropod tracks have been found in Denali. Troodon tracks have two toes, which can be distinguished from other theropod tracks that typically have three toes. The toes have thick knuckles that taper towards the end, not dissimilar from the feet of a modern-day chicken.

Fun fact
Troodon had very large eyes and binocular vision! This may have provided a competitive advantage for hunting in the low light conditions of Alaskan twilight during winter months.
 
a size comparison that shows a park ranger and a troodon were about the same height
How do I size up? - Troodon was similar in height and weight to an adult man. However, they would be an intimidating sight with their enormous eyes and sharp claws!

Last updated: August 15, 2016

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Denali Park, AK 99755

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