A discovery of a nesting site in Grande Prairie may also lead to the discovery of new dinosaur species.
University of Alberta student Tetsuto Miyashita and Frederico Fanti, a paleontology graduate student from Italy, made the discovery of a feeding frenzy that played out 73 million years ago.
The pair discovered the remains of baby, plant-eating dinosaurs and the teeth of a predator, which was identified as teeth of a Troodon. This dinosaur was raptor-like and measured about two meters in length.
According to Miyashita, the discovery established the idea that dinosaurs were nesting at high latitudes. He says it also shows for the first time a significant number of Troodons in the area that hunted hatchling dinosaurs.
Over the course of two summers of field work, Miyashita and Fanti began building a theory that Grande Prairie is a missing link between known dinosaur species that existed much further to the north and south. The list of new finds for the area includes armored and thick-headed plant eaters and fossilized freshwater fish and reptiles.
Miyashita says this small pocket of previously undiscovered life could have had interactions that lead to the evolution of new species.
Miyashita says the variety of dinosaurs in one area creates new ecological interactions such as competition for food and predation.
He says that can lead to the evolution of a new species.
The pair will now go back to Grande Prairie in 2010 to focus on finding other dinosaur species in the area.