Vegan Dinosaur? Scientists find new fossils of a plant-eating dinosaur in Japan
Based on new fossils discovered in Hokkaido, Japan, researchers have found a new species and genus of plant-eating dinosaurs, reveals a new report by The Independent.
The dinosaur species named ‘Paralitherizinosaurus japonicus,’ lived on Earth during the Upper Cretaceous epoch around 72 million years ago, belonging to a family of small to large herbivorous theropod dinosaurs dubbed Therizinosauridae.
This wasn’t all, researchers also unearthed two more species from northern and northwestern regions of Japan -- Alaxasaurs from Inner Mongolia and Suzhousaurus from Gansu Province.
Other Chinese species -- Jianchangosaurus, Beipiaosaurus, and Lingyuanosaurus -- were recovered from the Jehil Group in the Liaoning Province of China, located in the eastern part of the nation.
Researchers highlighted that even though fragmentary fossils of therizinosaurs originated from Japan, the taxonomic status of these dinosaurs was still unresolved.
They highlight that such fossils were found at the eastern edge of the Asian continent during the cretaceous period before the opening of the Japan Sea that occurred in the Miocene epoch that stretched for around 23 million years to 5.3 million years ago.
A similar specimen collected from the Osoushinai Formation in Nakagawa Town of Hokkaido Prefecture was later discovered to be a maniraptoran dinosaur as well as what looked like a therizinosaur. The novel study re-examined the specimen to identify it as a new therizinosaurid species.
According to researchers the dinosaur came from a new taxon based on novel evidence and had distinct features in its limbs and claws. They also claim to be the youngest therizinosaur from Japan and the first recovered from the marine deposits in Asia.
They said, “Paralitherizinosaurus japonicus is the third therizinosaur specimen from Japan, following a single tooth from Honshu Island and a partial braincase, teeth, and humerus from Kyushu Island. Our study demonstrates that it is a new taxon, Paralitherizinosaurus japonicus gen. et sp. nov., because it shows a unique combination of characters in the metacarpal I and unguals. This suggests a long temporal existence of therizinosaurs at the eastern edge of the Asian continent and adaptation of therizinosaurs to coastal environments.”