Dinosaurs in the Southern Hemisphere have awakened from a long, deep sleep and are invading Tokyo this spring.

More than 80 recently discovered dinosaur skeletons and fossils are on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science until June 21.

The exhibit, "Dinosaurs of Gondwana: Unknown Rulers of the Southern Hemisphere," is a rare look at the dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere and in time may overturn established theories about dinosaurs, experts say.

"There are dinosaur exhibits held every year, but they are mainly from the northern hemisphere," said Dr. Yukimitsu Tomita, the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology. Popular dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops were discovered in the northern hemisphere, he said.

Although the museum held an exhibit focusing on the southern hemisphere in 1998, there have been dramatic findings since, Tomita said.

"The research on dinosaurs has advanced in the last 10, 15 years. Dinosaurs that were not found 10 years ago have been found," he said. "Most in the exhibit are new [to Japan]."

The highlight of the exhibit is the world premiere of a Mapusaurus skeleton display. Mapusaurus, which means "lizard of the land," was discovered in Argentina in 1995. Estimated to be about 42 feet long, Mapusaurus is said to be in no way inferior to T-rex. The exhibit displays adult and juvenile skeletons.

The discovery of Mapusaurus fossils in herds of at least seven indicates that they hunted and lived in groups, which contradicts the theory that large carnivorous dinosaurs acted independently, Tomita said.

Another dinosaur of interest on display is Nigersaurus, with its flat and harmonica-like mouth. Nigersaurus, said to have lived in Africa 110 million years ago, was discovered in Niger Republic in 1999. With its tiny teeth lined up straight, it sucked down plants growing on the ground.

Others on display were discovered so recently that they have yet to be named.

After checking out the dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere, one can’t help but wonder if dinosaurs roamed Japan. The answer is yes. The exhibit concludes with dinosaur fossils found in Fukui prefecture in western Japan, along the Sea of Japan. And we’re not talking about Godzilla.

Held at the National Museum of Nature and Science until June 21.

Address: 7-20 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-8718.

Phone: 03-5777-8600.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; Last admission 30 minutes before closing. Also open until 6 p.m. April 25 to May 6. Closed Mondays but open April 27 and May 4.

Admission: Adults and college students: 1,500 yen; high school, junior high and elementary school students, 600 yen. For groups of more than 20 people, rates are: adults and college students, 1,200 yen; high school, junior high and elementary school students, 500 yen.

To get there: The museum is a five-minute walk from the Ueno Koen exit of JR Ueno Station on the Yamanote line, or a 10-minute walk from Ueno Station on the Ginza and Hibiya subway lines and the Keisei line.

Visit the museum’s site at

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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