Friday, 21 September 2012

The story of missile dinosaur: In what could be called the world’s longest paleontological search, scientists from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) have rediscovered the fossilised remains of India’s first dinosaur 134 years after they went missing

By Syed Akbar 
Hyderabad:  In what could be called the world’s longest
paleontological search, scientists from the Geological Survey of India
(GSI) have rediscovered the fossilised remains of India’s first
dinosaur 134 years after they went missing.

The dinosaur remains will now help scientists to have a deeper
understanding of the giant reptiles that once populated the Earth.
Incidentally, the Indian dinosaur was unearthed in early 19th century
even before the word “dinosaur” was coined. It is the only specimen of
its type and is believed to be a window to the world of dinosaurs.
Andhra Pradesh was one of the important regions for dinosaurs. It is
believed that volcanic eruptions in Deccan had led to the mass
extinction of dinosaurs on the earth.

Geologists have been searching for the remains of India’s first
dinosaur since 1877. The dinosaur was discovered in 1828 by British
army official Lieutenant-colonel WH Sleeman, and changed hands of
eminent scientists till 1877, when it suddenly went missing.
Thereafter, there had been no news about the fossilised remains, till
GSI scientists chanced upon them a couple of months ago as part of an
international study on dinosaurs. The remains were rediscovered from
the GSI headquarters in Kolkata.

According to a GSI report, the Indian specimen is of Titanosaur
indicus. It is a holotype, which means that it is the only specimen
based on which a new group of animals is named. The fossilised remains
were first discovered from the geological formation of Jabalpur in
Madhya Pradesh. The discovery in 1828 was just four years after the
first-named dinosaurs Megalosaurus in 1824 and 14 years before the
name Dinosauria was coined out in 1842.

“The Indian specimen could formally be described as Titanosaur indicus
only in 1877 by Richard Lydekker, after a gap of over 50 years. The
specimen was out of circulation since then and considered as lost.
During its sojourn from 1828 to 1877, it changed hands of eminent
scientists. It is the first titanosaur dinosaur described in the world
and hence a critical specimen for the global research on evolutionary
history of titanosaurs,” the GSI report pointed out.

The original specimen, which was not traceable for the last 134 years,
was rediscovered by Dr DM Mohabey and Dr Subhasis Sen. The remains
were lying with the Mesozoic vertebrate fossil collection of Richard
Lydekker.

The specimen which represents the caudal vertebrae is in the complete
state of its preservation as it was originally illustrated by Richard
Lydekker in 1877. The finding is the result of an ongoing joint
international collaborative programme for study of late Cretaceous
Tetrapod fossils from Lameta Formation involving Geological Survey of
India and University of Michigan...

The study also focuses on restoring the missing specimens and
revisiting the specimens that were described at least 75 years ago.

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