Summary of the Dinosaur Fossils Discovery in Thar Desert by IIT Roorkee Scientists
Scientists from IIT Roorkee have characterized dinosaur fossils found in the Thar desert near the Jaisalmer Basin. These fossils are of a sauropod dinosaur and are the oldest known of their kind, dating back to the Middle Jurassic period.
Type of Dinosaur
The remains belong to the Dicraeosauridae family, under the superfamily Diplodocoidea. This makes them the first dicraeosaurid sauropods to have been found in India.
Tharosaurus indicus, as the dinosaur has been named, belongs to the same family as the longnecked herbivores made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, albeit being much older.
Age of Fossils
The fossils are approximately 167 million years old, making them the oldest known diplodocoid fossils in the world.
The dating technique indicated that these fossils are older than any other known sauropod fossils globally.
Geological and Evolutionary Context
Gap in Indian Fossil Record
There is a gap in the Indian fossil record from the Middle or Late Jurassic period, making this discovery significant.
Previous fossil discoveries have been from the Early Jurassic and the Late Cretaceous periods, but this new discovery fills an essential gap in Indian paleontology.
The scientists speculate that these diplodocoid sauropods could have originated in India and used land connections to migrate to other continents.
There is a high possibility that the Indian landmass was the site for the early radiation of this group of sauropods.
Need for More Fossils
Both Indian and international scientists note that more fossils are needed to better understand sauropod evolution in India and globally.
The incomplete skeleton means that future discoveries could significantly alter or affirm the current theories on sauropod evolution.
Lack of Investment in Paleontology in India
India lacks sufficient investment and interest in paleontology, affecting the discovery rate of such significant fossils.
Experts suggest that India needs more natural history museums to preserve and showcase its fossil wealth.
The discovery of Tharosaurus indicus is a significant milestone in paleontology, particularly for India. The findings hint at India's crucial role in the early evolutionary history of sauropod dinosaurs. However, experts caution that this is just the beginning and more work needs to be done to fill gaps in the fossil record and evolutionary understanding.