KUALA LUMPUR - As excitement builds over the discovery of a second dinosaur fossil in Malaysia, a palaeontologist says the country could be a hotbed for more of such discoveries.
Dr Masathoshi Sone of Universiti Malaya (UM)'s Department of Geology said geological similarities between Malaysia and Thailand showed a great likelihood of finding more dinosaur fossils here.
He said dinosaur fossils were found in Thailand over the last 40 years with several museums dedicated to dinosaurs set up in the north of the country.
"Due to similarities in the geology of Malaysia and Thailand, palaeontologists have long suspected similar findings could be made in Malaysia," Dr Masathoshi said at a press conference called to announce the presence of the second dinosaur fossil in Pahang.
The specimen unveiled was a fossil tooth of a herbivorous dinosaur of the Ornithischian order.
The tooth was about 13mm long and 10.5mm wide in preserved dimensions.
Dr Masathoshi said the family classification was still undetermined although there was a possibility that it was an armoured dinosaur.
He said the specimen was discovered among sedimentary rock formation, dating back to the Cretaceous period.
This period has been defined as between 145 and 75 million years ago.
In February, Dr Masathoshi announced the discovery of fossil remains of what was considered the spinosauridae dinosaur, a particular family of carnivorous dinosaurs.
The latest find was not far from the location where the first fossil was discovered.
"This implies that there was an established vegetated terrestrial ecosystem in Peninsular Malaysia where carnivores feasted on herbivores and herbivores feasted on vegetation," said Dr Masathoshi.
Research assistant Teng Yu He, a UM postgraduate student in geology, and three other Japanese researchers were part of the team that stumbled upon the discovery.
UM vice-chancellor Prof Dato Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin said the university was thrilled and hoped it would inject fresh interest in palaeontology.
"We have many geologists in Malaysia although most of them specialise in petroleum," he said.
"Few ventured into the sub-discipline of paleontology due to perceptions regarding the lack of career prospects."