Thursday, September 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Elephant fossil found in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, Sept 6 (PTI) — Geologists from Kashmir University here claimed to have found a massive elephant fossil, believed to be 50,000-year-old, in saffron-rich Pampore in south Kashmir.

The fossil was discovered at Gallander, 15 km from here, by geology students of Sopore College who were on a study tour to Pahalgam.

Their initial find was immediately reported to the Geology and Geophysics Department of Kashmir University whose experts have started excavating the site since the beginning of this month.

In view of the fragile nature of the skull, digging is expected to take another 10 days.

“Beginning from the tusk, it took us three days to expose the whole skull,” Dr G.M. Bhat, a Reader in the department said.

Earlier there were reports of bone fragments in the valley, but what lends significance to the latest discovery is that the fossil contains a complete lower and upper denture part of tusk, according to the team of geologists.

The tusk girth of 25 inches at the base suggests that it is over 10 feet long.

The skull dimensions are 5 feet by 4 feet in size. The age of the skull coincides with the advent of homo erectus, the experts say.

“Though it would take a lot of research work to establish the scientific implications of the find, at face value we could say that the valley had sub-tropical climatic condition 50,000 years ago,” Dr Mohammad Ismail Bhat, head of the Geology Department said.

The elephant was probably living in hot and humid climatic conditions in the valley, he added.

He said the finding had thrown open the possibility of further vertebrate fossil hunting in the valley.

Excited local villagers are thronging the site in large numbers.

The finding is considered significant by local geologists who say it brings the valley closer to vertebrate fossil-rich Siwalik hills in terms of ancient wildlife and climate and could throw new light on the past.

Similar elephant fossil occurrences are known from the Narmada valley and the Indo-Gangetic plains. Whereas elephants continue to exist in those places, their extinction from Kashmir could be possibly due to the rise of the Pir Panjal range, which resulted in adverse climatic conditions that were not conducive for the elephant survival there. 

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