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It may not seem like it now, but 65 million years ago dinosaurs lived and roamed the Canadian Arctic during a time period known as the Cretaceous period.

Image: A jaw bone from a juvenile Hadrosaur

3D View: Hadrosaur
A Hadrosaur's jawbone stored in a small museum box.

Why this species is important

In 1989, a scientist from the Canadian Museum of Nature was excavating an area on Bylot Island, just off the northern coast of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.  It was here that this paleontologist discovered the jaw bone of a young dinosaur known as a Hadrosaur.


The Continental Drift

The Earth is constantly changing.  Over millions of years the planet’s continents have shifted and continue to do so today.  This geological phenomenon is known as the Continential Drift.

Associated with these drifts are specific geological time periods when air temperature and life on Earth was very different than present day.

See how the Earth’s continents have shifted over millions of years. 400 million years ago, many of the Earth’s continents were attached, centralized and near the equator.  Around 300 million years ago, the northern continents began to detach and spread north.  Around 100 and 200 million years ago, the continents began to decentralize and detach further.  10 million years ago the continents were located in their present position.

A map of the world showing the continents shifting between 400 and 10 million years ago.
10 million years ago
400 million years ago

A possible migration


Migration is very common among species due to a variety of reasons. Palaeontologists are currently studying the possibility that Hadrosaurs may have migrated to other locations during certain times of the year and asking why they would have done this.  Could it have been the seasons changing, temperatures fluctuating or food disappearing?  Ongoing research by palaeontologists will hopefully one day have an answer!


A day in the life


Hadrosaurs are also called “duck-billed” dinosaurs due to their head that resembles a modern-day duck.  They were herbivores, or plant-eaters, and had four legs but usually walked on two. Roaming the Arctic, they chewed the lush vegetation with their long flattened snouts and many teeth.


One big family


When many people think of dinosaurs they tend to think of them as solitary creatures who travelled solo or in very small groups.  Research has found that Hadrosaurs likely travelled in giant herds with both adults and their young.