Abstract

A diverse and prolific record of polar dinosaurs comes from the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian–Maastrichtian) sediments of the Prince Creek Formation exposed on Alaska’s North Slope. Previous assignment of basal ornithopod material from this formation has been based solely on teeth, which have either been referred to “hypsilophodontid” indet. or Thescelosaurus sp. Here, we re-examine this material and describe several new specimens, including five isolated premaxillary teeth and three cheek teeth. The premaxillary teeth are most similar to those of Thescelosaurus, whereas the cheek teeth are more similar to its sister taxon Parksosaurus, for which premaxillary teeth are unknown. Referral of this new material to Thescelosaurus would represent the oldest occurrence of this taxon and considerably extend its stratigraphic range. A more likely possibility is that the premaxillary teeth are referable to Parksosaurus, an interpretation that is more parsimonious from a stratigraphic perspective. Intriguingly, one cheek tooth previously referred to as “hypsilophodontid” cannot be referred to either Thescelosaurus or Parksosaurus. Previously, faunal comparisons of the Prince Creek Formation have largely been made with non-contemporaneous formations, including the Campanian-aged Judith River and Aguja formations, or to the latest Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation. On the basis of age and faunal similarities, a more appropriate comparison should be made with coeval rocks of the Horseshoe Canyon. This study expands our knowledge of Cretaceous ornithischian diversity at polar paleolatitudes and underscores the importance of small, rare, or easily misidentified fossils in paleoecological studies.

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