Pronunciation: a-LASS-kuh-SEF-uh-lee Meaning: Alaska head Author/s: Sullivan (2005) Synonyms: None known First Discovery: Alaska, USA Chart Position: 465
Alaskacephale is a member of Pachycephalosauridae—the bipedal, herbivorous, thick-skulled critters affectionately known as "headbangers"—and is the only one of its kind from Alaska. Heck, it's one of the few dinosaurs of any kind from Alaska. The problem is; it's known only from a domed skull cap attached to a cheek bone, so accurate size estimates are impossible. However, performing a like-for-like upscale based on the corresponding bit of Pachycephalosaurus gives Alaskacephale an estimated length of around two to three meters. That's assuming, of course, they were of similar proportions.
(Gangloff's Alaska head) EtymologyAlaskacephale is derived from "Alaska" (the state where the holotype was discovered), and the Latin "cephale" (head)—a common suffix attached to members of Pachycephalosauridae. The species epithet, gangloffi, honors paleontologist Roland Gangloff who found the remains, described them as an unnamed pachycephalosaurid (but possibly Pachycephalosaurus) in 2005, and who has contributed significantly to our understanding of dinosaurs of the North American Arctic region.
DiscoveryThe fossils of Alaskacephale were discovered in the Prince Creek Formation (Colville Group), North Slope Borough, Alaska, USA. The holotype (UAM AK-493-V-001) is a nearly complete left squamosal (a cheek bone) attached to a partial dome. Two rows off bony, pointed nodes sit between the upper cheek and base of the dome, suggesting its skull was crowned with some sadistic, spikey Roman wreath.