Strain-dependent variation of glycan recognition during initial cell attachment of viruses is a critical determinant of host specificity, tissue-tropism and zoonosis. Rotaviruses (RVs), which cause life-threatening gastroenteritis in infants and children, display significant genotype-dependent variations in glycan recognition resulting from sequence alterations in the VP8* domain of the spike protein VP4. The structural basis of this genotype-dependent glycan specificity, particularly in human RVs, remains poorly understood. Here, from crystallographic studies, we show how genotypic variations configure a novel binding site in the VP8* of a neonate-specific bovine-human reassortant to uniquely recognize either type I or type II precursor glycans, and to restrict type II glycan binding in the bovine counterpart. Such a distinct glycan-binding site that allows differential recognition of the precursor glycans, which are developmentally regulated in the neonate gut and abundant in bovine and human milk provides a basis for age-restricted tropism and zoonotic transmission of G10P rotaviruses.