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Current Affairs

Pre-historic extinct elephant species in Kutch

Date: 10 February 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Scientists carrying out excavation in Kutch region of Gujarat stumbled upon a premolar tooth, Which belonged to an extinct ancient elephant called Deinotherium indicum.

 

Background

This is the region’s first occurrence of the mammal which, hitherto only known from two or three localities of Tapar in Gujarat, Haritalyangar in Himachal Pradesh, and Piram Island off the coast of Gujarat.

 

Details

  • Using a technique called biostratigraphy, it was noted that D. indicum lived roughly between 11 and 7 seven million years ago in India.

  • In biostratigraphy, the presence of certain species from a known time period can be used to estimate the age of a deposit containing the same species in a different locality.

  • Remains of D. indicum have been found in well-dated Siwalik deposits from Haritalyangar of Himachal Pradesh.

  • These species were similar to modern elephant when it comes to their large bodies and limbs but they had flatter skulls, and a set of downwards pointing, curved tusks only on the lower jaw. Analyses of their skulls have shown that they probably also had a short, slightly bulbous trunk.

  • This species was a fairly distant relative of today’s elephants, both evolutionarily and in time. The deinotheriidae was first found in the fossil record approximately 28 million years old in Africa.

  • The team plans to continue their studies in the Tapar beds of Kutch as it may be hiding many more fossils. There are also plans to create a dataset of species occurrences through time in western India and compare the trends in diversity seen there with those seen in the well-studied fossil record from the Siwaliks.