“Dinosaurs Under the Aurora” shows a different side to Alaskan wildlife history

Illustration courtesy of J. Eduardo Camargo Martinez

When one imagines the lost world of dinosaurs and paleontology, the first thing that comes to mind is a montage of stereotypical excavation images in a dry, desert-like area. These excavations did happen, but on August 16, a lesser-known side of the story will be told by Roland A. Gangloff, UAF emeritus associate professor of geology and geophysics.

Gangloff’s lecture will be about his new book “Dinosaurs Under the Aurora,” which came out this summer. The book itself rewrites any assumptions about paleontology readers may have, showing diagrams and photos of arctic excavations and findings. In his book, he demonstrates the importance of arctic paleontological research — especially in Alaska — and shares his experience with field research in an easy to read format.

“I think the book really does a fantastic job of explaining the research, the changes in the research, how things were found,” said Rachel Epstein, the Bookstore’s special events coordinator.

Gangloff is a well-known figure in the paleontological world who currently is a visiting scholar at the University of California Museum of Paleontology and has worked as a curator of earth science at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. He was the first person to describe Alaskacephale gangloff, an arctic dinosaur found in Alaska, whose binomial name was assigned in Gangloff’s honor.

Epstein is enthusiastic about the book’s appeal to a large range of audiences, citing her own experience with Gangloff’s work. “I wasn’t someone who’s that interested in dinosaurs, and I’m really getting hooked!” she said.

The lecture will cover the history of dinosaurs in the arctic, the theories surrounding their presence in the north and recent fossil discoveries. There will be a book signing by Gangloff after the lecture. “Dinosaurs Under the Aurora” is now available at the UAA Bookstore, and according to Epstein, a new shipment of the books will arrive before the book talk so everyone interested can purchase a copy. The book is also available for Kindle readers via Amazon.

“Alaska is a very special, special place in what they’re finding in terms of the globe,” Epstein said. “It’s another Alaskan story, you know? And it makes you feel proud of a place like that.”

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The “Dinosaurs Under the Aurora” book talk will be held in room 307 of the UAA/APU Consortium Library from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 16. The all-ages event is free to the public, and includes free parking at the library as well. For more information, visit the Bookstore’s website at http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events/ or e-mail Rachel Epstein at repstein2@uaa.alaska.edu.