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Dinosaur fossil found 30 years ago in Hokkaido likely a new species

A replica of a fossil confirmed to be the ribs, thighbone and pelvis of a dinosaur, likely to be a new species, is seen on display in the town of Mukawa, Hokkaido Prefecture, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Mainichi/Kimitaka Hirayama)

MUKAWA, Hokkaido -- Research by Hokkaido University Museum and other bodies has found that a dinosaur fossil found in this town around 1990 is likely that of a new species, the museum's associate professor Yoshitsugu Kobayashi announced on Jan. 6.

    A man from Mukawa found the fossil along a river in the town's Hobetsu neighborhood and donated it in 2002 to the local Hobetsu Museum, which began its cleaning process on the relic in June 2020. The facility then consulted with Kobayashi about the fossil.

    The piece was discovered in a geological layer dating back to the late Cretaceous period, 100 to 66 million years ago. The fossil is assumed to be a theropod of saurischian dinosaurs, which include carnivorous dinosaurs and birds, and is the third such kind found in Hokkaido following discoveries in the town of Nakagawa and the city of Ashibetsu.

    Though the skull hasn't been found yet, parts including the ribs, thighbone and pelvis were confirmed. An international research team is conducting a joint study on the fossil. Kobayashi explained, "The fossil is very important in elucidating the evolution of typical dinosaurs to birds." The team says it will present its findings at an academic conference.

    The man who found the new species also discovered the fossilized dinosaur skeleton of "Kamuysaurus japonicus" -- tentatively called "Mukawaryu" after the name of the town where he found the fossil -- and it was confirmed as a new species in 2019.

    (Japanese original by Kimitaka Hirayama, Tomakomai Bureau)

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