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  1. #1
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    Issarn dinosaur fossils and the Sirindhorn Museum

    Tracking the Siamotyrannus
    By Peter Janssen, dpa


    Layers of sandstone dating back to the Jurassic era have been exposed in the Isan plateaus, which are a treasure trove of dinosaur remains

    Isan, as Thailand's north-eastern region is known locally, is a hard sell for the tourism industry.

    The countryside is typically flat and deforested, making it ideal for growing cash crops such as rice, tapioca and sugarcane but creating a scenery that elicits the same level of appreciation from tourists that the Corn Belt does in the mid-western United States.

    However, the geographic history that created this rather tedious landscape makes it exciting for palaeontologists.

    About 50 million years ago the Eurasian continental plate collided with the Indo-Australian plate to form the Himalayan mountain range in South Asia. In Southeast Asia, ripples from the same continental crash gave birth to the Korat and Sakorn Nakorn plateaus that comprise what is now Isan.

    As a result of these fairly "recent" geological upheavals, layers of sandstone dating back to the Jurassic era have been exposed in the Isan plateaus that have turned it into a treasure trove of dinosaur remains.

    Thailand's first dinosaur fossil was discovered in the Phu Wiang hills of Khon Kaen province, 370 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, in 1976 by Sutham Yaemniyom, an employee of the Department of Mineral Resources who was exploring for uranium.

    The discovery eventually led to a joint Thai-French palaeontological expedition that in 1982 unearthed Thailand's first major dinosaur site, some 21 bones that turned into the Phuwianggosaurus sirindhornae, a new genus and species of sauropod that was 15 to 20 metres long.

    The dinosaur derived its scientific tag from Phu Wiang and the name of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej's second daughter, princess Chakri Sirindhorn, who has demonstrated an interest in palaeontology.

    Four other dinosaur species have been discovered in Phu Wiang, including Thailand's own version of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the slightly smaller Siamotyrannus isanensis.

    Thailand's Siamotyrannus was carbon dated at 130 million years, making it a predecessor of the T-Rex, only 100 million years old.

    Also discovered at Phu Wiang were the remains of Siamosauraus suteethorni, a crocodile-looking creature and Compsognathus, the world's smallest dinosaur at an estimated 70 centimetres long, and the Ornithomimosaur, an ostrich-like dinosaur.

    Two more new dinosaur species have since been discovered in Chaiyaphum province, including the Psittacosaurus sattayaraki, a parrot-billed dinosaur, and the Isanosaurus attavipachi, similar to the Puwianggosaurus.

    Life-size replicas of these "Thai" dinosaurs can be viewed at the Phu Wiang Museum, situated 30 kilometres west of Khon Kaen city. Energetic tourists can also hike to the nine dinosaur digging sites at Phu Wiang, a national park since 1991.

    The sites have been sensibly enclosed by cement bunkers to keep amateur palaeontologists and souvenir hunters away.

    "Thai dinosaur bones have shown up for sale on E-Bay and at Bangkok's Chatuchak weekend market," said Wickanet Songtham, director of the Phu Wiang Museum.

    Although dinosaur fossils are classified as state property, thefts from sites will go unpunished until Thailand passes a fossil protection act, which has been under consideration for three years.

    While the Phu Wiang Museum boasts the kingdom's most famous fossil sites, the newly opened Sirindhorn Museum in neighbouring Kalasin province has usurped it as Thailand's prime dinosaur show piece and tourist attraction.

    The Sirindhorn Museum, which had a soft opening in April 2007, was built by the Department of Mineral Resources with a 370 million baht (11 million dollars) budget. It is situated about 30 kilometres north of Kalasin town.

    The museum's displays have been cleverly composed to explain how Thailand's dinosaurs fit into the bigger evolutionary picture.

    There are collections of fossils, both from Thailand and elsewhere, models of dinosaur skeletons, and various video presentations accompanied by dual language (Thai and English) explanations.

    The museum also houses Southeast Asia's largest collection of dinosaur bones with more than 800 pieces.

    The new museum replaces an older one that was at the same location. It is close to the Phu Kum Khao dinosaur site where remains of seven Phuwianggosaurus sirindhornae were found.

    Although the Sirindhorn Museum has started to attract local attention, it remains off the beaten track for most foreign tourists.

    "Last year we had 210,000 visitors but during the first seven months of this year we've already had about 300,000," said Naramase Teerarangsigul, Sirindhorn Museum director. "But about 95 per cent of the visitors were Thais, and of the 5 per cent who were foreign most were foreign men married to Isan women."

    Information Box:
    ---------------------

    Destination: Phu Wiang Museum is 370 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, 30 kilometres west of Khon Kaen city. Sirindorn Museum is 430 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, 30 kilometres north of Kalasin city.

    Getting There: Best to drive your own car. Alternatively, Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia flies to Khon Kaen Airport, and public buses are available to Kalasin. Khon Kaen is also reachable by train or tour buses.

    Opening hours: Both Phu Wiang and Sirindorn dinosaur museum are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Mondays.

    From TAT.

    Sirindhorn Museum and Phu Kum Khao Dinosaur Excavation Site

    This archaeological museum is situated in the foothills of Phu Kum Khao Mountain in Sahatsakhan District, approximately 28 kilometres from Kalasin Town.

    The Palaeozoic Era was two hundred million years ago, long before humans existed. Dinosaurs once lived in this area and we find their fossils underneath the sandstone bedding-plane. Hence, the museum is a research centre as well as being the most complete and largest dinosaur museum in Southeat Asia

    The museum was named by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. A two-storey building, its interior is filled with mysterious walkways guiding visitors to travel back in time to the Palaeozoic Era. Walking through the tunnels, visitors reach various exhibition halls about Geology, the beginnings of the Earth and how it was formed, as well as the evolution of living creatures such as dinosaurs and humans.

    The museum’s outstanding exhibits include life-sized skeletons of the many significant dinosaur species discovered in this area, such as Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, Siamosaurus suteethorni and Siamotyrannus isanensis. In addition, also displayed in the museum, is the actual archaeological dig-site where fossils of six dinosaurs were unearthed from the same bedding-plane.

    The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8:30-17:30. Admission is free until the official opening is announced. For further information, call 0 4387 1014, 0 4387 1613-4.

    To get there, take Highway 227 (Kalasin - Sahatsakhan) for 28 kilometres. Two kilometres before Sahatsakhan, you will come to an intersection. Turn right and continue for another kilometre.

  2. #2
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    Issan fossil find attarcts interest from Japan

    An excavation here has discovered allosaurus fossils and those of other dinosaurs.

    "Allosaurus is the biggest carnivorous dinosaur species to have been found in Thailand," said Dr Pratuang Jintasakul, director of the Nakhon Ratcha-sima Rajabhat University Petrified Wood and Mineral Resources Research Institute and Museum.

    Allosaurus is a late-Jurassic carnivorous dinosaur. It is similar to, but somewhat smaller, than the tyrannosaurus. Yet, allosaurus used to stand as tall as 10 metres. "From what we have found, some of its teeth are 10 centimetres long," Pratuang said.

    Excavation at Ban Saphan Hin in Nakhon Ratchasima's Muang district uncovered iguanodon, duck-billed dinosaur and pterosaurs fossils in conglomerate layers dating back 100 million years.

    Japanese dinosaur expert Dr Yoichi Azuma, deputy director of the Fukui Dinosaur Museum, also attended yesterday's announcement.
    Pratuang said his institute had found piles of dinosaur fossils and rocks in the suburbs of Khon Kaen over the past seven years.
    Then in 2005, he invited Chinese dinosaur expert Professor Dong Zhiming to help classify the fossils.
    "In all, there are more than 1,000 dinosaur fossils," he said.
    Because the Chinese expert also served as an adviser to the Fukui Dinosaur Museum, Azuma heard about the fossils in Nakhon Ratchasima and made a visit here last year.

    The Fukui museum offered scholarships worth around Bt1.8 million each year for palaeontologists to jointly study fossils alongside the institute team between 2007 and 2009.

    Pratuang said the university offered financial help, too.

    The Nation
    NAKHON RATCHASIMA






  3. #3
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    The heart of Thailand's dinosaur province..

    Kalasin : Thailand Wonders Travel

  4. #4
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    Rare dinosaur fossils discovered in Kalasin
    Boonsong Lipimas
    21 Febuary 2010

    KALASIN, 21 February 2010 (NNT) A geologist from the Department of Mineral Resources believes that dinosaur fossils which were recently found at Kham Muang District of Kalasin province belong to a rare type of sauropod that has never been discovered before.

    Dr Varavut Suteethorn, an expert from the Department of Mineral Resources stated that the recent discovery included fossils that were bigger than the sauropod fossils discovered in China. He stated the possibility that the fossils in Thailand may have belonged to a type of sauropod that had never been discovered before.

    According to the report, a total of 20 dinosaur fossils were discovered in perfect condition. A hip bone was measured to be 150 cm long and 50 cm wide. Dr Varavut and his team, which comprised of Dr.Eric Buffetaut, and Dr.Haiyan Tong will continue to dig for more fossils.

    Meanwhile, officials have been ordered to maintain duty at the area to prevent any robberies while the provincial governor would make this area public with an aim to declare it as an important tourist destination.

    thainews.prd.go.th

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