Japanese researchers said Thursday they have unearthed the remains of an 8-meter-long Hadrosaurid, dating from around 72 million years ago, in the mountains of Hokkaido, making it the largest fossilized dinosaur skeleton discovered in the country.
The team involving members of Hokkaido University and a museum in the town of Mukawa, Hokkaido, hailed the findings as "one of the greatest discoveries in Japanese dinosaur research history," adding it is extremely rare for so many fossilized parts from a single dinosaur to be unearthed to enable the skeleton to be visualized.
The latest discovery related to the duck-billed dinosaurs is a boon to the southern Hokkaido town, which has an aging population and has been trying to revitalize through tourism and education linked to fossils finds in the area.
The fossilized remains were found in a geological layer dating from the Upper Cretaceous period when the area was covered by 80 to 200 meters of seawater.
The excavation began in 2013 after local fossil collector Yoshiyuki Horita found a fossilized tail bone in 2003. More than 1,000 fossil bones were eventually unearthed.
The media on Thursday were shown around 190 fossilized parts of the dinosaur skeleton that have been identified and laid out in a town building.
Hadrosaurids were grazers and the discovered dinosaur was likely to have lived near the coast, according to the researchers.
"The fossils are also valuable in global terms. We hope to discover what kind of dinosaur habitat existed along the coast," said Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, an associate professor of the Hokkaido University Museum and a member of the research team.
Horita, 67, told reporters, "I will be happy if children and (dinosaur) lovers come and reinvigorate our town."
An almost complete fossilized dinosaur skeleton of a small carnivorous theropod dinosaur was excavated in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast in 2007.