Archaeologists find rare 100-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur fossil
As part of a breakthrough, archaeologists in India unearthed 100-million-year-old fossil bone fragments of a sauropod dinosaur in the West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. Researchers in the Paleontology Division of the Geological Survey of India, who have yet to release the results, have excavated in the northeast and have uncovered the rare fossils believed to have originated in the Titanosaur period. Recent discoveries make Meghalaya the first state in the northeast and the fifth in India after Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu to have discovered the prehistoric fossils, according to a PTI report.
The Natural History Museum describes the Sauropod as a giant herbivore that walked mainly on four legs. By the late Cretaceous, there were at least 20 species of dinosaurs recognized to have been found in India in 1933, including Sauropods, theropods, and ornithopods. In 1982, the first discovery of dinosaur and egg nesting sites in Lameta sediment and associated titanosaurian and abelisaurid dinosaur skeletons rekindled interest in dinosaur research, said DM Mohabey of the Paleontology Division. , Geological Survey of India, in its paleontological and sedimentological observations.
“Meghalaya dinosaur bones were reported by GSI in 2001, but they were too fragmentary and poorly preserved to understand its taxonomic identification,” said Arindam Roy, senior geologist, division of paleontology, GSI, as quoted by PTI. He continued, “The current discovery of bones takes place during fieldwork in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. The team’s last visit was in February 2021. The fossils are likely from the Late Cretaceous, around 100 million years ago.
[Sauropod specimen. Image Credit: Twitter/@matthew_rhodes_]
A diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, known as Titanosaurs, were found in India and lived from the late Jurassic (163.5 million to 145 million years ago) to the late Cretaceous (there 145 million to 66 million years old). The species ranged in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. The fossils of these dinosaurs have been excavated on every continent except Antarctica and they are the largest land species of animal ever known to mankind. Researchers describe these dinosaurs as herbivorous quadrupeds with long tails, long necks, and small heads, reaching a length of 7 meters (about 23 feet) and a weight of around 10,000 kg (11 tons).
25 disarticulated and fragmentary bone specimens were excavated
The preserved fossils, excavated by Indian archaeologists, include limb bones, with a distinct type of curvature, the lateral and proximal margins of the partially preserved bone, which also indicate that it is a bone of humerus. The study of the details of the fossil fragments is still ongoing. Scientists have described the bones as purplish to greenish, having a “coarse-grained arkosic sandstone interspersed with pebble beds.” At the site, up to twenty-five, mostly fragmentary, disarticulated bone specimens have been collected, which archaeologists say were found in close proximity to each other.
The largest specimen was a preserved limb bone measuring 55 centimeters (cm), and a separate incomplete limb bone measuring 45 cm in length matched the bones of members of the titanosauriform clade. In India, the Late Cretaceous Sauropod dinosaur generally belongs to the Titanosaur clade and existed mainly in the Lameta Formation of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and the Kallamedu Formation of Tamil Nadu, the researchers said.
“The abundance of bones recovered during the present work and in particular the discovery of a few limb and vertebrae bones with taxonomic characters from the titanosauriform clade are unique,” Roy told PTI. “The record of the sauropod assembly of the probable titanosaurian affinity of Meghalaya extends the distribution and diversity of vertebrates in the Late Cretaceous of India,” he added.