Fossilized mammal skeleton from the dinosaur era found in central Japan
The partial remains of a fossilized skeleton of a herbivorous mammal has been discovered in a layer of earth from the Lower Cretaceous, about 120 million years ago, in Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture, researchers announced Saturday.
|This sketch shows what the rare herbivorous mammal, whose fossilized bones were found in Katsuyama, |
Fukui Prefecture, two years ago, may have looked like 120 million years ago [Credit: Kyodo]
The skeleton was discovered in June 2014 by Kakeru Funato, then an elementary school student in the fourth grade, who was attending a fossil excavation event in the Katsuyama Dinosaur Forest Park.
A computerized tomography examination by the university and the museum determined that it was the skeleton of a small grass-eating mammal from an extinct group called Multituberculata, which had similar characteristics to Rodentia.
|The mudstone that contained a fossil of a rare mammal from 120 million years ago is seen in this photo |
[Credit: Fukui Prefectural University/Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum/Kyodo]
The animal is estimated to have had a body length of about 13 centimeters when it was alive, according to the museum and the university. The portion of the well-preserved fossil is 5 centimeters long, 2.6 cm wide and 1.3 cm in height.
Judging from its teeth and body size, it might be a species that had never been discovered before, the researchers said.
|This illustration shows the fossilized skeleton of a rare herbivorous mammal from the dinosaur era. |
The skeleton parts that were discovered in Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture, are displayed in gray
He discovered the rare find after cracking into a rock.
“When I found it, I thought it might be a discovery of a sort,” he said. “But I’m astonished to learn it was an important enough fossil to make news.”
Source: The Japan Times [June 26, 2016]