Photos: Tracking dinosaurs along the Yukon river

Kevin May, Pat Druckenmiller and Paul McCarthy (left to right) inspecting an outcrop of Cretaceous rock along the Yukon River.
Courtesy Pat Druckenmiller
A dinosaur track exposed along the rocky shoreline of Yukon River. Finding the fossils involved walking along the river’s banks and turning over rocks.
Courtesy Pat Druckenmiller
Katherine Anderson, Meg O’Connor, and Julie Rousseau wrap aluminum foil around tracks for safe transport back to the museum. Pat Druckenmiller is assigning field numbers and recording field notes about the fossils.
Courtesy Roger Topp
Hind foot print of an herbivorous dinosaur.
Courtesy Pat Druckenmiller
The inflatable boats (aka “dinobarge”) used to travel down the river.
Courtesy Pat Druckenmiller
Suzanna Caldwell

Pushing off from the banks of the Tanana River this summer, Pat Druckenmiller knew the challenges his team of scientists would encounter trying to find dinosaur footprints along the banks of the Yukon River. A long trip with lots of rock hounding awaited, he figured.  And for what? Maybe a few footprints here and there.

What the Alaska paleontologist didn't expect was finding, literally, a ton of dinosaur fossils.

His team of 14 people spent two weeks traveling 500 miles of the Yukon River this summer, and in the process uncovered thousands of dinosaur footprints along the river's edge.

For Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator for the University of Alaska Museum of the North, the magnitude of the find went far beyond his expectations. On one beach the team collected 50 fossils in 10 minutes.

“It's a little overwhelming,” he joked in a phone interview Wednesday.

READ MORE: Fairbanks scientists discover trove of dinosaur fossils along the Yukon River