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No. 75: May-Jun 1991

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The Dinosaurs Of Winter And The Polar Forests

It seems appropriate after suggesting above that the dinosaurs might have been frozen to death in a cosmic winter to remind the reader that some of the dinosaurs were pretty tough animals. Many dinosaur fossils have been dug up in Alaska, northern Canada, Siberia, New Zealand, and Antarctica. Not only were some dinosaurs cold-resistant but, seeing many were herbivorous, they were also able to migrate to more temperate climes as the long days of the polar summers waned. The point here is that the dinosaurs as a clan were very adaptable and should have survived severe environmental stress. (Vickers-Rich Patricia, and Rich, Thomas H.; "The Dinosaurs of Winter," Natural History, 100:33, April 1991.)

That the polar regions were once covered by lush forests has been underscored by recent discoveries in both polar regions. Stumps of huge trees 45 million years old dot the now-bleak landscape of Axel Heiberg Island far north of the Arctic Circle. In Antarctica, heaps of 3- million-year-old fossil leaves have been found within 400 kilometers of the South Pole. (Francis, Jane E.; "Arctic Eden," Natural History, 100:57, January 1991. Also: Peterson, Christian; "Leafing through Antarctica's Balmy Past," New Scientist, p. 20, February 9, 1991.)

Comments. Coal beds are also known from Spitzbergen and Antarctica.

The vision of dinosaurs roaming polar Edens evokes many questions. If the polar regions were indeed 10-20C warmer than now, what could have survived at the Equator? The dates given above (3 and 45 million years ago) for polar heat waves are well after the 65million-year demise of the dinosaurs. This suggests that the biosphere recovered very well from the KTB catastrophe. Why, then did the dinosaurs succomb so completely?

From Science Frontiers #75, MAY-JUN 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987