Europe's biggest dinosaur a massive hit in Japan

Europe's biggest dinosaur a massive hit in Japan
PHOTO: Japan News/ANN

The biggest European dinosaur reared its head in Japan for the first time at the opening of the Mega-Dinosaur Exhibition 2015 at Makuhari Messe convention centre in Chiba.

In addition to that major attraction - a skeletal reconstruction of a Turiasaurus riodevensis - the exhibition features ancient fossils of dinosaur species measuring as long as 30 meters, along with the ever-popular Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) and Stegosaurus. The event is being hailed as a fun summer outing for the whole family.

The highlight of the show is the collection of sauropods - four-legged, herbivorous dinosaurs thought to be the largest-ever terrestrial animals in the 3.8 billion-year history of life on Earth. About 30 sauropod species are on display in the form of skeletal reconstructions and fossils.

The Turiasaurus fossils were discovered in Spain in 2003. They were embedded in a rock layer formed 140 million to 150 million years ago (late Jurassic to early Cretaceous period). The Chiba exhibition marks the first time the skeleton has been shown to the public outside Spain.

Another sauropod on display is Diplodocus carnegii, a 30-meter-long species found in North America that rivals the Turiasaurus in size.

Japan has unearthed its own share of sauropods. Among them, Fukuititan nipponensis from Fukui Prefecture and Tambatitanis amicitiae from Hyogo Prefecture are spotlighted in the show.

The event also offers a chance to view more commonly known dinosaurs, including the carnivorous T. rex - a frequent star of sci-fi movies - Allosaurus fragilis (large carnivorous dinosaurs in the Jurassic period) and Stegosaurus, which has triangular bony plates running along its spine.

In addition to dinosaur collections, the large flying reptile Pteranodon and Deinosuchus, an extinct gigantic crocodile, are among the other must-see items. Both are from the Mesozoic era, when dinosaurs lived.

But dinosaurs are not the only creatures on display: The exhibition also provides a glimpse of the creatures that preceded them. These include Anomalocaris canadensis - a giant arthropod that inhabited the sea about 500 million years ago (Cambrian period) - and Dimetrodon, a mammal-like reptile that lived 300 million years ago and is an evolutionary predecessor to today's mammals.

Post-dinosaur era highlights include Basilosaurus - a primitive whale that lived 40 million years ago - and Mammuthus primigenius, which became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

Mega-Dinosaur Exhibition 2015

Runs through Aug. 30 at Makuhari Messe convention centre's Hall No. 11 (Nakase 2-1, Mihama Ward, Chiba). Open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is 2,000 yen (S$31.50) for people above high school age and 1,000 yen for children aged 4 through middle school age.

For more information, call (03) 5777-8600 (NTT Hello Dial) or visit the official website (http://mega2015.jp/). The event is organised by The Yomiuri Shimbun, Makuhari Messe and Chuo Senden Kikaku Co., and is sponsored by Starts Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Zkai Co.

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