Click here for a picture of charismatic Hell Creek fauna
The most fascinating thing about paleontology is just how much concrete information people have been able to pry out of the fossil record. Paleontologists know (or at least can infer) mind-boggling amounts of detailed information about the climate, ecology, and biota of the Late Cretaceous, which means that there’s surprisingly little I could just make up when writing Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen. Errors no doubt crept in, both because of the needs of the story and my own poor understanding of the science, but if you want to really learn something about the Maastrichtian, take a look at:
For Hell Creek’s plant species (except for the fictional “saltbrush”), Description of Several Common Fossil Leaf Species from the Hell Creek Formation by Kirk R. Johnson, Latest Cretaceous Leaf Megafloras from the Jose Creek Formation of New Mexico by Garland R. Upchruch and Greg H. Mack, and Plants and the K-T Boundary by Douglas J. Nichols and Kirk R. Jonson,A snapshot into the terrestrial ecosystem of an exceptionally well-preserved dinosaur (Hadrosauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of North Dakota, USA by Vivi Vajda, Tyler R. Lyson, Antoine Bercovici, Jessamy H. Doman & Dean A. Pearson, and Flora in the time of Chasmosaurs by Maija Karala. See also Maija’s beautiful artwork of the Late Cretaceous North American coastal forests .
For the climate of Hell Creek, Evolving ideas about the Cretaceous climate and ocean circulation by William W. Hay, The Maastrichtian (Late Cretaceous) climate in the Northern Hemisphere by Lena B. Golovneva, The late Cretaceous environment of the Arctic by R.A. Spicer and A.B. Herman, Cretaceous forest composition and productivity inferred from a global fossil wood by Emiliano Peralta-Medina and Howard J. Falcon-Lang, Cretaceous wildfires and their impact on the Earth system by Sarah A.E. Brown, Andrew C. Scott, Ian J. Glasspool, and Margaret E. Collinsona, and Stable carbon isotopes of C3 plant resins and ambers record changes in atmospheric oxygen since the Triassic by Tappert et al. (since it turns out the Mesozoic wasn’t swimming in oxygen after all, see Cerling, Thure E. “Does the gas content of amber reveal the composition of palaeoatmospheres?” Letters to Nature. Nature. Vol 339 29 June 1989 p. 695.)
For the dinosaurs’ behavior, Horn Use in Triceratops by Andrew A. Farke, The Predatory Ecology of Deinonychus and the Origin of Flapping in Birds by Denver W. Fowler, Elizabeth A. Freedman, John B. Scannella, and Robert E. Kambic, Forelimb biomechanics of nonavian theropod dinosaurs in predation by Kenneth Carpente , A Comparison of the Jaw Mechanics in Hadrosaurid and Ceratopsid Dinosaurs Using Finite Element Analysis by Bell PR, Snively E, and Shychoski L., A Mummified Duck-Billed Dinosaur with a Soft-Tissue Cock’s Comb by Phil R. Bell et al, and A New Large-Bodied Oviraptorosaurian Theropod Dinosaur from the Latest Cretaceous of Western North America by Matthew C. Lamanna et al.
For Hell Creek’s ecology, Spatial niche partitioning in dinosaurs from the latest cretaceous (Maastrichtian) of North America by Tyler R. Lyson and Nicholas R. Longric,, Latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Aridity Indicated by Paleosols in the McRae Formation, South-Central New Mexico by Brenda J. Buck and Greg H. Mack, Dinosaurs and Dirt by G.J. Retallack, Hadrosaurs Were Perennial Polar Residents by Anusuya Chinsamy, Daniel B. Thomas, Allison R. Tumarkin-Deratzian, Anthony R. Fiorillo, Theropod teeth from the Prince Creek Formation (Cretaceous) of northern Alaska, with speculations on Arctic Dinosaur paleoecology by Anthony R Fiorillo, Roland A Gangloff, Implications of beak morphology for the evolutionary palaeoecology of
the megaherbivorous dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Park Formation (upper
Campanian) of Alberta, Canada by Jordan C. Mallon & Jason S. Anderson, and THIS THING!
And the website that (for me) started it all, Phillip Bigelow’s Hell Creek Faunal Facies (http://www.scn.org/~bh162/hellcreek2.html).
In addition to those who helped me without knowing it, I also owe whatever scientific accuracy can be found in this story to the kind help from the Dinosaur Mailing List (http://dml.cmnh.org/), the Hell Creek Forum (http://www.hellcreek.tk/), and TV Tropes (http://tvtropes.org). Specifically, Ron Blakely (paleogeography and maps), K. Kripchak (paleoclimatology), Renato Santos, Tom Parker, Nick Turinetti, Avipes, Patrick Grant, Albertonykus, and mmartyniuk (dinosaur behavior and appearance), alethiophile, Night, Last Hussar, Yej, fishsicles, and Sabre’s Edge (military history and other random questions).