Fun Nanuqsaurus Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Oct 20, 2022 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Oct 04, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Nanuqsaurus facts like only a partial skull has been discovered are interesting!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

The Nanuqsaurus is a dinosaur genus known to have dated back all the way to the Late Cretaceous age.

Only a single type species comes under this genus, called the Nanuqsaurus hoglundi. This species was named by Ronald S. Tykoski and Anthony R. Fiorillo. This species is currently known only from the fossil remains of a partial skull. Some undescribed postcranial elements are also existing. The entire Nanuqsaurus skeleton has not been discovered yet.

Believe it or not, dinosaurs of this genus are actually related to Tyrannosaurus rex, however, it is about half the length of the Tyrannosaurus.

The remains of this medium-sized specimen were found at the North Slope of Alaska, in the United States of America. The Nanuqsaurus is often referred to as 'the polar bear lizard'.

How thrilled are you to know about other dinosaurs? For more relatable content, check out these Timimus facts and Haplocheirus facts for kids.

Nanuqsaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Nanuqsaurus'?

The name Nanuqsaurus is pronounced as 'Nah-nuk-sore-us'.

What type of dinosaur was a Nanuqsaurus?

The Nanuqsaurus is a type of tyrannosaurid theropod.

In which geological period did Nanuqsaurus roam the earth?

Nanuqsaurus (which means ‘a polar bear lizard’) was said to exist during the early Late Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous period, roughly being about 70-68 million years ago.

When did the Nanuqsaurus become extinct?

We do not have much information related to the period of extinction of these theropods.

Where did Nanuqsaurus live?

The Nanuqsaurus fossils were unearthed at the Prince Creek Formation, situated at the North Slope of the state of Alaska in the United States of America.

What was the Nanuqsaurus' habitat?

It has been said that this tyrannosaur type had been situated at high-latitude habitats.

Who did Nanuqsaurus live with?

Unfortunately, we do not have any information on this.

How long did a Nanuqsaurus live?

Sorry, we do not know the information related to the lifespan of this species.

How did they reproduce?

Not much information related to the reproductive habits of the Nanuqsaurus is available.

Nanuqsaurus Fun Facts

What did Nanuqsaurus look like?

The holotype of this species, DMNH 21461, was unearthed at the Prince Creek Formation. It has been said that this holotype dated almost 69.1 million years ago.

This holotype consisted of a partial skull, with a lower jaw found very close to it. The skull also contained the nasal branch connecting to the right maxilla, the front of the dinosaur’s left dentary as well as a partial skull roof which included partial parietals, right laterosphenoid, and frontals.

It has been deduced from the skull that it belonged to a fully matured individual. The Nanuqsaurus skull also showed a smooth nasal contact.

It has been said by Anthony R. Fiorillo and Ronald S. Tykoski that the Nanuqsaurus, being half the size of the Tyrannosaurus rex, has such a body due to its adaptation to living in a high-latitude habitat. However, later studies have revealed that the small size was actually unfounded.

It may have been similar in body size to other tyrannosaurids of North American, such as the Albertosaurus. This revelation has been made on the basis of the undescribed postcranial elements as well as the adult-sized teeth.

A particularly distinct shaped ridge present on the head of the Nanuqsaurus shows that the carnivore dinosaur is related to Tyrannosaurus rex. The total length of the reconstructed skull is about 23.6-27.5 in (60-70 cm), which has been made on the basis of proportions of related specimens.

Nanuqsaurus has been well classified as a tyrannosaurine. This diagnosis has been made by many features.

These include a rostrally forked, thin medium spur of fused parietals which are present on the dorsal skull roof. These overlap together and separate the frontals present within the sagittal crest.

Another feature is the frontals having a long rostrally pointed process which is seen separating the lacrimal facets and the prefrontal facets. For the Nanuqsaurus, the first two dentary teeth have been observed to be comparatively smaller than the other dentary teeth situated behind them.

There is a forked thin medium spur of fused parietals present on the dorsal skull roof.

How many bones did a Nanuqsaurus have?

Sorry, we do not know the total number of bones in the body of the Nanuqsaurus.

How did they communicate?

Not much information is available on how these dinosaurs communicated.

How big was the Nanuqsaurus?

In the earliest description of the Nanuqsaurus, it was estimated to be about half the size of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, being about 16.4-19.7 ft (5-6 m) long.

This is equal to about 18 times the length of the Ornithomimus minutus.

How fast could a Nanuqsaurus move?

Unfortunately, we do not know the speed of the polar bear lizard. However, members of the Tyrannosauridae are known to have fast movements due to strong limbs.

How much did a Nanuqsaurus weigh?

The estimated weight of the polar bear lizard is about 1102.3-1,984.2 lb (500-900 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

Well, you can call a male specimen of this genus 'Nanuqsaurus', while the female can be called a 'Nanuqsaura'.

What would you call a baby Nanuqsaurus?

Hatchling is what a baby dinosaur is called.

What did they eat?

This tyrannosaur was a known carnivore. As they lived in present-day Alaska, it has been predicted that the Nanuqsaurus hunted down young Pachyrhinosaurus and Ugrunaaluk.

As per studies conducted by paleontologists, northern Alaska actually belonged to the ancient subcontinent of Laramidia about 70 million years ago. This region experienced extreme harsh weather, being cold for the majority of the time. There were extreme changes in the daylight present throughout the year, thus affecting the availability of food in different seasons.

The availability of prey thus increased in the hot summer months. However, prey availability declined even quicker in the cold winter months, and thus food must have been very scarce.

Fiorillo and Tykoski then suggested that the lack of abundant food might be the reason behind the small size of this advanced tyrannosaur, as really large animals cannot spend their days with limited resources. The smaller size may have been an evolution due to food scarcity.

How aggressive were they?

Sorry, no content is available on the behavior of this tyrannosaur.

Did you know...

The North Slope of Alaska is almost entirely frozen. Only a thin surface of the active layer of tundra is known to thaw every season, whereas the majority of soil is known to be permanently frozen throughout the year.

Anthony Ricardo Fiorillo was earlier the chief curator and the vice president of research and collections at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science.

Other theropod species spotted at the Prince Creek Formation include Dromaeosaurus, Saurornitholestes, Saurornitholestinae indet, Ornithomimosauria indet, Gruipeda, and Troodon.

Other Ornithischians species discovered at the Prince Creek Formation include Edmontosaurus, Ornithopoda indet, Alaskacephale, Leptoceratopsidae, Lambeosaurinae indet, Pachyrhinosaurus, and Thescelosaurinae indet. Even the remains of a mammal, called the Unnuakomys, were discovered at the same site.

There have been discussions on the presence of another species under this genus, the Nanuqsaurus cheloniformis.

Just like a polar bear, the Nanuqsaurus is a well-known predator of the Arctic.

As this specimen is almost half the size of the Tyrannosaurus rex, it is sometimes referred to as the 'polar pygmy'.

Dozens of three-toed footprints of these theropods have been spotted in Denali, North America. The larger tracks were earlier thought to belong to the smaller specimens of the Tyrannosaurus rex, but upon discovering the Nanuqsaurus, these footprints were assigned to the latter genus.

The term 'tyrannosaurids' translates to 'tyrant lizards'.

One of the most well-known specimens known to have survived in cold climates is the Triceratops. These herbivorous dinosaurs would travel to tropical climates for food when the cold winter season would arrive, and travel back to their land when the temperature was as per their preference.

In their respective ecosystems, tyrannosaurids always secured the top position in the food chain, being the dominant predators of the biosystem.

Why are they called Nanuqsaurus?

The Nanuqsaurus dinosaur was first named and scientifically described in the year 2014 by Anthony R. Fiorillo and Tykoski. The type species coming under this genus is Nanuqsaurus hoglundi.

The generic name of this dinosaur, Nanuqsaurus, is a combination of two words, ‘nanuq’ and ‘sauros’. ‘Nanuq’ is a Iñupiaq term translating to ‘polar bear’. ‘Sauros’ comes from the Ancient Greek language, meaning ‘lizard’.

The specific name of the polar bear lizard, ‘hoglundi’, has been titled in honor of Forrest Hoglund, a well-known philanthropist who has done commendable work in the fields of philanthropy and cultural institutions.

Who discovered Nanuqsaurus?

At the Kikak-Tegoseak Quarry in the year 2006, fossils were discovered in the North Slope Borough in the state of Alaska. These remains belonged to a medium-sized theropod, with the skull having a length of about 23.6-27.5 in (60-70 cm).

These fossils were first referred to as belonging to the Gorgosaurus and later classified as belonging to the Albertosaurus. After proper preparation in the Dallas Museum of Natural History (Perot Museum of Nature and Science), it was discovered that the fossil remains actually belonged to an entirely new specimen.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Condorraptor surprising facts and Kryptops fun facts for kids pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Nanuqsaurus coloring pages.

Main image by Nobu Tamura.

Second image by Jonathan Cutrer.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

Aashita Dhingra picture

Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

Read full bio >