Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Mammal-like reptile fossil found

June 2007
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 19: A new mammal-like reptile has been discovered for the first time in the country from the upper Triassic formation in the Pranahita-Godavari valley in Adilabad district. The fossilised remains of this animal are 225-million-years-old and will provide vital information to scientists on the evolution of early mammals. It belongs to the order Cynodonts and its remains are recorded for the first time from upper Triassic formations.
The animal has been identified as a new genus/species and named as Deccanadon maleriensis (Deccan because it was found in Deccan plateau and maleriensis after the Maleri sedimentation).
Though Cynodonts were discovered elsewhere in the world, no such animals were ever found in India. The Pranahita-Godavari valley is one of the few places on the earth where Triassic period sedimentation are found. So far only three groups of cynodonts are reported from Europe. Deccanodon malerienseis cannot be compared with Indian specimens, as no cynodont teeth are reported.
The discovery was made by palaeontologists P. Yadagiri and T.T. Nath of the Geological Survey of India.
"The discovery of this animal from older stratigraphic horizon assumes importance as the study will help to evaluate the origin and evolution of early mammals from upper Triassic (Carnian) to early Jurassic period," Mr Yadagiri told this correspondent. The GSI team collected five well preserved specimens of post canine teeth from Lakshmipuram village in Adilabad district. The collection includes five well preserved specimens of post canine teeth. The teeth closely resemble that of Microdon if one goes by the shape of the crown, separation of cusps, absence of a constriction between crown and root, and incipient division of the root. Interestingly, the early mammals were nearly microscopic, of the size of a big ant. "The post canine tooth is well persevered except part of the distal root portion. The enamel is smooth. The specimen measures 20 mm in height and 13 mm in length. The width is narrow. The crown part is larger than the preserved root portion. The crown part is laterally compressed, six cusps are arranged in a longitudinal row. The crown and root are not separated by constriction," Mr Yadagiri said. The find of Maleri cynodont teeth has opened a new vista to search for cynodonts along with early mammals.

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