Excavations in Rajasthan have led to the groundbreaking discovery of a new species of plant-eating dinosaurs. The unearthing was carried out by scientists from IIT - Roorkee and the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Named after the Thar Desert of western India, where the fossils were found, the new species has been dubbed "Tharosaurus indicus."
The oldest fossil remains of a long-necked, plant-eating dicraeosaurid dinosaur are estimated to be around 167 million years old. Before this discovery, the oldest dicraeosaurid was believed to have originated in China (approximately 166–164 million years old). The origin of their species' ancestors was a mystery, with many scientists hypothesizing that it might be in parts of Asia and America. In line with this idea, the new findings in India have shed light on their origin.
The journal Scientific Reports describes Tharosaurus indices as having vertebrae with deep, long depressions on the sides and undersurface, along with split neural spines (the topmost parts of the backbone) resembling spikes. A global comparison of the bone structure of the Jaisalmer sauropod with other sauropods made it evident that a new species of dicraeosaurid, previously unknown to the world, had been discovered in India.
A systematic fossil exploration and excavation program initiated by the GSI in 2018 led to the discovery of several fossil bones of a dicraeosaurid dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic rocks (167 million years old) of the Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan. Subsequently, a comprehensive study was undertaken in 2022 by Sunil Bajpai and Debajit Datta from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee. The collection of these fossils was overseen by GSI officers Krishna Kumar, Pragya Pandey, and Triparna Ghosh, under the supervision of Debasis Bhattacharya.
This extraordinary finding suggests that India played a significant role in the evolution of dinosaurs. The scientists involved in this study propose that the geographical arrangement of continents in the past opens up the possibility that the species might have migrated from India to Africa-South America, and from there to Europe and Asia through North America.
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