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On a trek for Arctic dinosaur footprints in Alaska preserve

Washington Post

Originally Posted: July 24, 2021

‘Did you find one?” Tony Fiorillo yelled to his colleague, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi. The two paleontologists were climbing over dumpster-sized sandstone boulders, scanning the long, rocky beach of Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve at low tide for dinosaur footprints.

“I think so,” Kobayashi called back. They have been coming to one of Alaska’s most remote coastlines since 2016 to search for evidence of Late Cretaceous era dinosaurs.

Sedimentologist Paul McCarthy is part of the adventure. “I specialize in the mud between the [dinosaur] toes,” McCarthy joked. It’s a quip he once made on a local public radio show. Fiorillo has never let him forget it. “It was one of the few times you were witty,” Fiorillo, an expert on Arctic dinosaurs, said with a laugh. “A guy remembers things like that.”

This was the first official day of fieldwork for the three intrepid scientists who spent eight days in July searching for footprints in an effort to reconstruct the dinosaurs’ ecosystem and explain how they survived here for what may have been tens of thousands of years.