New herbivorous dinosaur species found in Japan

FUKUI - Fossils excavated from a layer dating to the early Cretaceous period (about 120 million years ago) in Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture, have been found to be those of a new species of Iguanodontia - a major group of herbivorous dinosaurs.

According to a Tuesday announcement by the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, the new species has been given the scientific name "Koshisaurus katsuyama," after Koshinokuni, an old Japanese word that refers to what is now the Hokuriku region.

The fossils have been on display at the museum since Thursday.

Unearthed in 2008, the fossils were from five parts of the creature's body, including a bone from its upper jaw with 13 teeth remaining in place.

Researchers believe the fossils are those of a juvenile Koshisaurus, and its length from its head to the tip of its tail is estimated to be three meters.

The fossils look similar to those of Fukuisaurus tetoriensis, another Iguanodontia species excavated in the same city in 1989.

However, scientists found a characteristic feature in its teeth, with this leading to the conclusion that it is a new species.

This was the sixth dinosaur species to have been discovered in Japan. According to a researcher at the museum, the Koshisaurus fossils have proved that primitive species of the Iguanodontia group that lived in areas now within Europe and North America increased their species diversity while expanding their habitats to Asia.