Starting from a small stone: Fukui’s dinosaur story

You can see this at Fukui Station.


What does the word dinosaur remind you of? For me, it reminds me of the movie Jurassic Park, which I watched at a theater with my father and brother.

Dinosaurs lived from about 230 to 66 million years ago. They dominated the Earth for 160 million years. It’s largely believed that most of them became extinct because of a meteor impact. A lot of researchers think that dinosaurs evolved into birds.

In Fukui Prefecture, there are lots of old, natural sedimentary layers on land and in lakes.

In Lake Suigetsu, there are varves 45 meters in depth that have been accumulating in the lake for about 70,000 years. Varves are a kind of layer in a lake. These are the thickest varves in the world. (I wrote about them in previous posts(The Miracle Lake in Fukui Prefecture,Japan), so please read them.) Lake Suigetsu’s varves are a global standard in archaeology and geology.

There’s a layer or stratum called the Tetori Group in Fukui, Ishikawa, Toyama and Gifu Prefectures. This layer accumulated over about 40 million years from the Late-Mesozoic Jurassic Period (170 million years to 145 million years ago) to the Early Cretaceous Period (145 million years to 99 million years ago). The Tetori Group, which is called Japan’s holy site for dinosaur fossil excavation, is Japan’s largest dinosaur fossil excavation site.

Fukui is called Dinosaur Kingdom Fukui because Fukui is the largest dinosaur fossil excavation site in Japan. In Fukui Prefecture, Katsuyama is the largest dinosaur fossil excavation site in Japan. The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, which is one of the world’s top three dinosaur museums, is located there. I’ll write about this museum in my next post. This museum is one of Fukui’s top sightseeing spots. In fact, around 900,000 people visited it in 2016.

I wrote that the Tetori Group is Japan’s holy site for dinosaur fossil excavation, Fukui is called Dinosaur Kingdom Fukui, and that there is a world-class dinosaur museum in Fukui Prefecture. Surprisingly, these things started from a small stone that a junior high school girl happened to find.

In 1982, the girl and her family went to the Tetori Group in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, to look for fossils. At the time, it was known that there were plant fossils in the Tetori Group, but nobody had found any dinosaur fossils there. At the Tetori Group in Hakusan, the school girl found a small stone that she took home with her.

A few years later, she accidently dropped it. It split open when it hit the ground revealing something that looked like a fossil. The stone was taken to the Fukui Prefectural Museum and researchers of Yokohama National University checked it. They found that it was the fossil of a dinosaur’s tooth. This fossil became the first dinosaur fossil from the Tetori Group, which made the people involved think that there might be other dinosaur fossils in the Tetori Group. They started scouring the Tetori Group to see if they could find other dinosaur fossils.

Systematic dinosaur fossil excavations have been carried out since 1989 at the Tetori Group in Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture. This systematic excavation is the longest and the largest for dinosaur fossil excavations in Japan.

If the girl whom I mentioned before hadn’t found that stone and dropped it, people still might not have found any dinosaur fossils at the Tetori Group. If so, Japan’s holy site for dinosaur fossil excavation, Dinosaur Kingdom Fukui and the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum might not have come into existence. She really did a great job!

It’s difficult to find dinosaur fossils because you have to do a lot of digging before you have the hope of even finding a single one. However, she found a dinosaur fossil. She must be one lucky girl!


「楽しい日本の恐竜案内」(監修:石垣 忍、林 昭次 )(執筆:土屋 健 )(平凡社)









Author: Taru

Thank you for visiting my site. I was born in Fukui, and I now live in Fukui. I would like to know more about Fukui, and I also like to tell people around the world about Fukui. My hobby is reading books. I practice and learn English every day. This blog's articles are checked by native English speakers.

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