First complete dinosaur skeleton found in S. Korea

November 24, 2014

This photo shows the complete skeleton of a theropod dinosaur discovered in South Korea, the first such find in the country. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — A complete skeleton of a small carnivorous dinosaur has been found in southern South Korea, the first such discovery in the country, a state think tank said Monday.

The National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage said the fossil was discovered in a Mesozoic geologic formation in Hadong, a county some 470 kilometers south of Seoul, with the skull and the lower jaw intact.

Theropods, or “beast-footed” dinosaurs, are of the same family as the Tyrannosaurus, one of the largest land carnivores to have lived on Earth.

The fossil has a 5.7-centimeter-long and a 2.6-cm-wide skull and is about 28 cm tall, making it one of the smallest dinosaurs to have ever been discovered in South Korea.

“The way this dinosaur has been fossilized is unique in that it was discovered with its vertebrae connected to its ribs,” the institute said, adding there seems to be another individual fossilized in a rock next to it.

Scientists said they plan to investigate the area near the site of discovery and determine whether the theropod is fully grown and is related to other fossilized theropod footprints discovered so far in the country.

Previously, paleontologists in South Korea had only managed to find fragments of bones belonging to theropod dinosaurs.

Other specimens discovered in the stratum in Hadong, aged some 110 million to 120 million years, include those of a Pukyongosaurus, a long-necked herbivore native to Korea, and pterodactyl teeth.