Paleontologists discover second species of hadrosaurid – sciencedaily

An international team of paleontologists has identified a new genus and species of hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur, Yamatosaurus izanagii, on one of the islands in southern Japan.

The fossilized find provides new information on hadrosaur migration, suggesting that herbivores migrated from Asia to North America instead of the other way around. The discovery also illustrates an evolutionary stage as giant creatures evolved from standing to crawling. Importantly, the discovery provides new information and poses new questions about dinosaurs in Japan.

The research, “A new basal hadrosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the late Cretaceous Kita-ama formation in Japan implies the origin of hadrosaurids,” was recently published in Scientific reports. Authors include Yoshitsugu Kobayashi of the Hokkaido University Museum, Ryuji Takasaki of Okayama Science University, Katsuhiro Kubota of the Museum of Nature and Human Activities, Hyogo, and Anthony R. Fiorillo of Southern Methodist University.

Hadrosaurs, known for their wide, flattened snouts, are the most common dinosaurs. Herbivorous dinosaurs lived in the late Cretaceous over 65 million years ago, and their fossilized remains have been found in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Specially adapted for chewing, hadrosaurs had hundreds of closely spaced teeth in their cheeks. As their teeth wore out and fell out, new teeth in the dental battery, or rows of teeth under existing teeth, developed as replacements. The efficient ability of hadrosaurs to chew on vegetation is among the factors that have led to its diversity, abundance and large population, the researchers say.

The Yamatosaurus’ tooth structure sets it apart from known hadrosaurs, says Fiorillo, a senior researcher at SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man. Unlike other hadrosaurs, he explains, the new hadrosaur has only one functional tooth in multiple battery positions and no branching crests on chewing surfaces, suggesting it has evolved to devour different types. vegetation than other hadrosaurs.

Yamatosaurus is also distinguished by the development of its shoulder and forelimbs, an evolutionary step in the hadrosaurid’s change of gait from a bipedal to a quadrupedal dinosaur, he says.

“In the far north, where much of our work takes place, hadrosaurs are known as the Cretaceous caribou,” says Fiorillo. They most likely used the Bering Land Bridge to cross from Asia to present-day Alaska, then spread across North America as far east as the Appalachians, he says. 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 the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The partial Yamatosaurus specimen was discovered in 2004 by an amateur fossil hunter in a layer of sediment about 71 to 72 million years old in a cement quarry on the Japanese island of Awaji. The lower jaw, teeth, neck vertebrae, shoulder bones and tail vertebra were found by Mr. Shingo Kishimoto and donated to the Japanese Museum of Nature and Human Activities in Hyogo Prefecture, where they were stored until they were studied by the team.

“Japan is mostly covered with vegetation with few outcrops for fossil hunting,” says Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, professor at the Hokkaido University Museum. “The help of amateur fossil hunters has been very important.”

Kobayashi has worked with SMU paleontologist Tony Fiorillo since 1999, when he studied under Fiorillo as a doctorate. Student. They collaborated to study hadrosaurs and other dinosaurs in Alaska, Mongolia, and Japan. Together, they created the name of their latest discovery. Yamato is the ancient name of Japan and Izanagi is a god in Japanese mythology who created the Japanese islands, starting with Awaji Island, where Yamatosaurus was found.

Yamatosaurus is the second new species of hadrosaurid that Kobayashi and Fiorillo have identified in Japan. In 2019, they reported the discovery of the largest dinosaur skeleton found in Japan, another hadrosaurid, Kamuysaurus, found on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

“These are the first dinosaurs discovered in Japan at the end of the Cretaceous period,” Kobayashi explains. “Until now, we had no idea what dinosaurs were going through in Japan at the end of the dinosaur era,” he says. “The discovery of these Japanese dinosaurs will help us fulfill part of our larger view of how dinosaurs migrated between these two continents,” Kobayashi says.

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