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Japanese Cartoonist Returned a Dinosaur Specimen to China
Update time: 04/18/2011
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A dinosaur jawbone referred to Probactrosaurus gobiensis, an early herbivorous iguanodontid dinosaur from Lower Cretaceous deposits of Inner Mongolia, China, returned to China after having been lost since 1962. The returning ceremony was held at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences on 14 April 2011.

Nobuyuki Okada, a Japanese dinosaur cartoonist, accidentally found this jawbone at an international fossil market in 1996, and bought it. He later took photographs of it and showed them to dinosaur experts in Japan, Yoichi Azuma and Masateru Shibata. Finding what it was and where it was from, he decided to turn it over to the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences with the help of Professor DONG Zhiming, a retired researcher of IVPP.

In 1959, a Soviet-Chinese field expedition unearthed numerous fossils, including Probactrosaurus gobiensis, from the Lower Cretaceous deposits in Alxa Zuoqi, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Paleontologists from the Soviet Union borrowed the unearthed fossils from IVPP for research and agreed to return them to China. Unfortunately, those borrowed specimens were never returned. Some of them were smuggled to the fossil market.

"For some reason, it came into my possession, and I will return it to where it belongs," he said on Thursday at the returning ceremony, "I wish this fossil specimen would also serve as an intermediary of friendship between the Japanese and Chinese peoples."

Fig.1: The returning ceremony at IVPP. (Photo by IVPP)

Fig.2: The returned jawbone of Probactrosaurus gobiensis. (Photo by IVPP)

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