New Dinosaur makes Nine from Thailand’s North-East

Fossil bones found by farmers digging a new pond in north-east Thailand have been identified as a new species of dinosaur – the ninth dinosaur species found in this part of Thailand and the sixth found nowhere else.

New-to-science Sirindhorna khoratensis was a plant-eating iguanodontid, about 6 metres long, which lived around 120 million years ago.

The new dinosaur takes it genus name from the daughter of Thailand’s King Bhumibol, Princess Sirindhorn, an enthusiastic patron of dinosaur research. Its species name comes from Khorat, the informal name for the city of Nakhon Ratchasima about 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok.

The fossils were uncovered in 2005 on the outskirts of the city by farmers digging a small reservoir to water their crops of corn and tapioca.

They reported the find to scientists at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University (NRRU), but the location meant that the dig teams could only collect the fossils when there were no crops in the ground, for a few months each year between 2006 and 2012.

Sirindhorna khoratensis replica at Fukui Prefectural University/Kyodo News
Sirindhorna khoratensis replica at Fukui Prefectural University/Kyodo News

Although the fossils are fragmented, most of the skull and jawbone are complete and Sirindhorna is now one of the best-known iguanodon species in Asia, say the researchers from Japan’s Fukui Prefectural University and NRRU.

Iguanodon-like dinosaurs lived in the early Cretaceous Period between 145 million and 100 million years ago, when most of Southeast Asia was covered by jungles, swamps and shallow seas.  They may have traveled in herds for protection against predators, like wild elephants today.

Masateru Shibata, a paleontologist at Fukui Prefectural University and the lead author of the research, told Kyodo News that iguanodons are thought to have colonised Asia from North America and Europe and the new find helped establish their range. Iguanodons from the early Cretaceous Period had also been found in Japan and the latest find from Thailand was “valuable as it shows iguanodons lived in a wide area of Asia,” he said.

Masateru Shibata/Kyodo News
Masateru Shibata/Kyodo News

The research has been published in the online science journal PLOS-One, and a replica of the full skeleton of the new dinosaur goes on display at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in central Japan on 30th January.

Sirindhorna is the ninth new species of dinosaur identified from fossils found in Thailand, all in the north-east Isan region of farmland, mountains and forests that extends from Khorat to Thailand’s Mekong River border with Laos and Cambodia.

It is the second Thai dinosaur named after Princess Sirindhorn — Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, a 20-metre long suaropod, was named in her honour in 1994.

North-east Thailand has emerged as a rich source of dinosaur fossils and other archaeological discoveries since the 1970s, when the first fossilized bones were found by prospectors looking for uranium in the broken scarps of Phu Wiang district, 85 kilometres west of the city of Khon Kaen and now a national park.

In 1994, the lucky find of a dinosaur bone by a monk in Kalasin province led to the discovery of a “dinosaur’s graveyard” and five new species. The discovery site has been developed into a renowned dinosaur museum and paleontology institute. Footprints from tyrannosaurs and other species have been found at several sites.

Ban Non Wat
Ban Non Wat/2korat.com

Archaeologists have also discovered important remains of the human occupation of the Middle Mekong Basin, including elaborate pottery and metalwork from grave sites at Ban Chiang and Ban Non Wat in north-east Thailand  — relics of Bronze-Age peoples who lived in the region between 3000 and 4000 years ago.

But they have warned that the region’s archaeological heritage is threatened by land development and looting that takes place before scientists can learn what’s there.

Dr Joyce White, an American archaeologist who worked on the Ban Chiang discoveries, said at a public lecture in Bangkok last year that the destruction of archaeological sites across the region would have a lasting impact on future prospects for tourism, education and the rural societies involved.

Dr White was an expert witness for the US Justice Department in a successful prosecution of a US museum that had purchased smuggled artifacts from Ban Chiang and other Thai archaeological sites. The artifacts were returned to Thailand in 2014.

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Mekong: a river rising | The Guardian

 

The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. With world leaders meeting in Paris for crucial UN climate talks, John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway – a place that encapsulates some of the dilemmas they must solve. He meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities

John Vidal’s first stop along the river is the tiny country of Laos. Fifty years ago, Laos began to build a series of giant dams. It was the first chance the country had to generate the electricity and money needed to emerge from deep poverty. But is this demand for clean energy creating ecological and human havoc?

Read more at Mekong: a river rising / The Guardian

Thailand Eyes Mekong & Moei Water Diversion to Control Drought & Flooding

Rasi Salai Dam

From: Many areas are flooded while others remain parched | Thailand PRD 6 August 2015:

quote1Meanwhile, Sisaket residents are still coping with the drought crisis as the amount of water in the Rasi Salai Dam is at a critical level. Only one of the sluice gates is opened to release water into the streams, in order to conserve the remaining water.

From: RID pushes two new water diversion bids | Bangkok Post 18 July 2015:

quote1[Mr Thanar said] the other project would divert water from the Mekong River to the Chi and Mun rivers in the Northeastern region. The project starts from Chiang Khan district in Loei where water from the Mekong River would be diverted into a new, 100-km canal which will be dug under the project.

The canal will be the water course sending the water into the two rivers in the Northeastern region. The project could feed more water into Ubolratana dam in Khon Kaen and nearby reservoirs. Upper Northeastern provinces will also reap benefits from the project such as Nong Bua Lam Phu and Loei.

The projects, under the department’s 10-year plan, will be forwarded for approval to the National Water Resources Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in its first meeting next Wednesday. The committee was set up last Wednesday, said Mr Thanar.

Vietnamese plea to Thailand: Don’t divert the Mekong | The Nation Thailand

quote1[Thailand’s] Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha voiced plans to use water from the Mekong and Salween rivers to fill dams that have run low because of drought and poor water management. But the PM’s remarks have caused shockwaves in the [Vietnamese] Mekong Delta, which would be directly affected if such a project was to go ahead.

Nguyen Huu Thien, a freelance expert on wetland ecology and natural resource conservation, criticised the idea. He said taking a large amount of water out of an international river was like sucking the blood from a body and would surely hurt the livelihood of people downstream.

“I just heard of Thailand’s idea to divert water from the Mekong River. I still don’t have much information about the plan but I strongly oppose this idea, as a change in the amount of water in the river would definitely have an impact on the people who live in the Mekong Delta and who rely on the river,” Thien said.

From: Vietnamese plea to Thailand: Don’t divert the Mekong | The Nation Thailand

Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle | The Isaan Record

From: Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle | The Isaan Record

quote12015 AUGUST 13 NAKHON PHANOM – Fifty years ago, Comrade Tang fought for communism in the first violent clash between communist fighters and Thai security forces. Last week, at 88 years old, he marked the anniversary with a call for democracy.

quote1In the early morning on August 7, villagers and local politicians flocked through the gate of Nabua’s village temple to commemorate the incident that came to be known as the “Day the First Gunshot Rang Out.” Against the military’s demands, the crowd of 250 not only celebrated the former communists, but also rallied for freedom from the current military rule in Thailand.

quote1On August 7, 1965 Nabua, an ethnic Phu Thai village, made headlines all across Indochina when Thailand’s first-ever physical confrontation between communist fighters and Thai security forces occurred. According to eyewitnesses, eight communist villagers were involved, one of whom was shot dead during the incident after the town was surrounded by state forces.

Japan, Mekong ink new ¥750 billion aid deal | The Japan Times

Japan announced a new three-year Mekong aid plan Saturday at the Japan-Mekong Summit to promote stability and growth in the region, and counter China’s growing political and economic clout in Southeast Asia.

“Japan will commit about ¥750 billion in official development assistance over the next three years,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference attended by the leaders of the five countries that make up the area. “Japan is a partner for the development of the Mekong region, which has future potential.”

The five Mekong nations are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

via Japan, Mekong ink new ¥750 billion aid deal | The Japan Times.

Japan,Thailand and Myanmar Sign Memorandum of Intent for Dawei Project

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Japan, Thailand and Myanmar have signed a memorandum of intent for the joint development of the long-delayed Dawei project in southeastern Myanmar.

The document was signed on the sidelines of the Japan-Mekong Summit in Tokyo.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said the project will become a new distribution hub for the world.

“The cooperation between the three countries on Dawei will be the world’s new economic gate linking the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. This will be major opportunity for Japan’s private sectors with Thailand’s support as manufacturing base, as a connecting point and as a product distribution centre to the region. With this, we reaffirm that Thailand will do its best to look after Japanese investment’s best interests.”

The project has been stalled for years largely due to the Italian Thai Development (ITD), which had failed to secure private investment and agree on a power source for the complex.

via Japan,Thailand and Myanmar Sign Memorandum of Intent for Dawei Project.