A lower jawbone fossil from a tyrannosaurid dinosaur was found in a roughly 74-million-year-old layer of earth from the Late Cretaceous period in southwestern Japan, in the first such discovery in the country, local museums said Thursday.

The finding in Reihoku, Kumamoto Prefecture, is expected to advance studies regarding the classification of large theropods during the Late Cretaceous period and the range of its habitat within Asia, according to the Goshoura Cretaceous Museum and the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.

The fossil is believed to belong to a new species in the Tyrannosauridae family, with an estimated body length of about eight meters, according to a researcher of the dinosaur museum.

Photo taken in Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Feb. 15, 2024, shows a lower jawbone fossil from a tyrannosaurid dinosaur discovered in a roughly 74-million-year-old layer of earth in Reihoku in the same prefecture in 2014. It is the first time a jawbone fragment of the family has been found in Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The fossil was initially discovered in 2014. Of the lower jawbone, the left dentary bone, which supported its teeth, measures around 14 centimeters in length and about 8 cm in height, while the connecting right side is approximately 17 cm in length and around 8 cm in height.

It is the largest jawbone of a carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Japan, according to experts.

"It was found from younger strata compared with fossils discovered in the past. It is a rarity in Asia," said Hiromi Kurosu, a curator of the Goshoura museum.

The jawbone fossil will be exhibited at the southwestern Japan museum following its renewal opening in March.

Members of the Tyrannosauridae family were large carnivorous dinosaurs with a body length of about 5 meters to over 10 meters that roamed present-day North America and Asia about 83 to 66 million years ago, according to the museum.

Fossil teeth of the dinosaur group have been discovered in areas such as Nagasaki, southwestern Japan.