Late Cretaceous Plesiosaur Teeth from Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, Canada

  • Deborah Vandermark
  • John A. Tarduno
  • Donald B. Brinkman
Keywords: Late Cretaceous, Axel Heiberg Island, elasmosaurids, paleoclimate, paleoenvironment


We report the discovery of Late Cretaceous plesiosaur teeth from non-marine strata on Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian High Arctic. In comparison to other plesiosaur teeth, these specimens are most similar to the teeth of elasmosaurs: they have a smooth outer surface and crenulated inner surface, with crenulations that extend nearly to the tip of the tooth. Comparisons with elasmosaurid fossils elsewhere indicate that the Axel Heiberg teeth are from juveniles. The presence of a plesiosaur in nonmarine strata on Axel Heiberg Island supports the suggestion that juvenile elasmosaurs frequently inhabited freshwater environments. The temporal distribution of the Axel Heiberg specimens and other occurrences from the High Arctic suggests that elasmosaurids may have expanded their range during a time of extreme climatic warmth.