Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Earth Sciences Faculty News

New duck-billed dinosaur species discovered in Japan

The Hill

Originally Posted: April 27, 2021

A new type of duck-billed dinosaur has been identified on one of Japan’s southern islands.

In 2004, an amatuer fossil hunter found the preserved lower jaw, teeth, neck vertebrae, shoulder bone and tail vertebra in an approximately 72-million-year-old layer of sediment on Japan’s Awaji island.

The fossil was given to Japan’s Museum of Nature and Human Activities where it was stored before being studied by an international team of researchers from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and Japan.

In a study recently published in Scientific Reports, researchers now say the specimen is that of a new genus and species of hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, they’ve dubbed Yamatosaurus izanagii.

The plant-eating hadrosaurs roamed the Earth during the Late Cretaceous period more than 65 million years ago and are the most commonly discovered type of dinosaur. Fossils have been found in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Researchers say the find is important as it provides new insight into hadrosaur migration, evolutionary changes and the prevalence of dinosaurs in Japan.

“They most likely used the Bering Land Bridge to cross from Asia to present-day Alaska and then spread across North America as far east as Appalachia,” SMU researchers said in a news release.

“When hadrosaurs roamed Japan, the island country was attached to the eastern coast of Asia. Tectonic activity separated the islands from the mainland about 15 million years ago, long after dinosaurs became extinct.”  READ MORE