National

‘World-class’ skeleton of herbivorous dinosaur excavated in Hokkaido

JIJI

Announcing the completion of time-consuming “cleaning” work, a research team in Hokkaido has unveiled what it claims is the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Japan.

Through the work to remove rocks and sediments in which the fossils were embedded, a total of 157 pieces were identified as bones of a large herbivorous dinosaur from the Hadrosaurid family, according to the team comprising curators of the Hobetsu Museum in Mukawa, Hokkaido, and Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, an associate professor at the Hokkaido University Museum.

The bones account for about 60 percent of the skeleton of the dinosaur, which is called “Mukawa-ryu” as the fossils were discovered in a 72-million-year-old sedimentary layer in Mukawa, the team said.

“Such a complete dinosaur skeleton has never been seen in Japan,” Kobayashi said last week. “It’s the greatest discovery in Japan’s (dinosaur) research history.”

After the first set of fossilized bones were discovered by a resident of Mukawa in 2003, they were initially thought to be those of a marine reptile. But the team found more fossils during later research efforts and it finally identified them as bones of a dinosaur weighing an estimated 7 tons with a body length of over 8 meters.

Given its bone features, the dinosaur is highly likely to be a new species, according to Kobayashi.

Stressing that a world-class dinosaur skeleton was discovered, Kobayashi said, “We’ll work to announce the significance of Mukawa-ryu.”