Hadrosaur skull found Upper Cretaceous strata in Japan
Reports have come in from several Japanese news agencies of the discovery of an 85 million year old duck-billed dinosaur skull in south-western Japan. This skull could represent a new genus of Hadrosaur although scientists have yet to state which of the two main clades of duck-bills – Hadrosaurine or Lambeosaurine this animal might belong to.
This fossil was originally found by an amateur palaeontologist in 2004 but it only recently has been cleaned, restored and identified as belonging to a dinosaur.
For much of the Mesozoic (age of reptiles) the land that makes the islands of Japan was underwater, what land was above sea level during this era was attached to the continental landmass of Asia, hence the several known genera of Japanese Cretaceous dinosaurs having a strong affinity with Asian dinosaurs. This is the first time a Hadrosaur skull has been found in Japan, although a femur suspected of belonging to an unknown duck-billed dinosaur was discovered a few years ago.
About a dozen different dinosaur genera are known from Japan. The Japanese have a real passion of prehistoric animals and there are a number of museums in the country with fine collections although the stock of home-grown dinosaurs is relatively poor. Other dinosaur fossils have been found in the north of the main Japanese island with prefectures such as Fukushima and Hyogo providing remains of other dinosaurs. Perhaps the best known Japanese dinosaur is the early Cretaceous ornithopod – Fukuisaurus. Fukuisaurus is believed to have been a medium sized Iguanodontid, it has been described from some partial jaw bone and teeth. The name Fukuisaurus still carries the “nomen nudum” status; a name given to an animal that has not yet been formally described and an animal for which no holotype (base specimen) has been designated.