KUALA LUMPUR – In what is clearly a step into the fabled Jurassic Park, University of Malaya (UM) scientists have discovered the remains of the first herbivorous dinosaur in Malaysia, in the form of a tooth fossil found in the rural interiors of Pahang.
The tooth, from the Herbivorous Ornithischian Dinosaur which lived during the early Jurassic to the Cretacious periods, is named Sampel UM10580 and measures just 13mm long and 10.5mm wide.
It is believed to be between 100 million and 110 million years old.
The UM paleontology research team stumbled on the tooth recently, making it the second discovery of fossil remains of a dinosaur in Malaysia. In February this year, the fossils of fish-eating dinosaurs were discovered.
The latest dinosaur remains were identified by the paleontology research team led by Associate Professor Dr Masatoshi Sone from the UM Geology Department, in collaboration with reptile paleontology specialist Professor Ren Hirayama from Tokyoâ€™s Waseda University and Associate Professor Toshifumi Komatsu from Kumamoto University.
Dr Sone said, with the discovery of the fosslised tooth, the team hadsuccessfully confirmed the presence of dinosaur remains in Pahang.
“The discovery of raw samples pertaining to the tooth was made in December last year, following field expeditions and search for dinosaur deposits in Malaysia since September 2012,” he told a press briefing at the UM today.
Also present were UM Dean of Science Faculty Professor Dr Zanariah Abdullah and Geology Department acting head, Associate Professor Mustaffa Kamal Shuib.
Ornithischian, said Dr Sone, were “plant eaters” which lived during the early Jurassic to Cretaceous periods.
“They walked on two legs or four legs, and did not possess body armour…it spent half its life in the river or lake and the other half on land,” he said.
Dr Sone said the sample was too small to provide other more details, including the sex of the prehistoric creature, but they were generally believed to be territorial animals.
“The area where the specimen was found used to be a lake, and the tooth was extracted from a sedimentary rock strata.
“Dinosaurs were terrestrial animals…therefore, their fossils can principally be found in the terrestrial, which is river or lake sediments,” he said.
He said the fossil was found not far from the location of the first discovery in February.
“We do not exclude the possibility that there is an ecosystem that collects dinosaur species in the vicinity of the discovery,” he added.
Dr Sone said the team was still conducting further research and hoped to carry out more extensive field investigations that could disclose more significant finds.
“It is plausible that large dinosaur fossil deposits still remain in Malaysia. Our extensive field investigation around the country may disclose more significant finds in the near future.
“We also will continue to discover more fossils in a few states of Penisular Malaysia, including Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan,” he said.
Dr Sone hoped the new discovery would also lead to the development of paleontology studies in the country. – BERNAMA