In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have uncovered the remains of the world’s oldest long-necked dinosaur in India, shedding light on the country’s pivotal role in dinosaur evolution. These fossils, dating back a staggering 167 million years, provide a glimpse into Earth’s ancient past and expand our understanding of prehistoric life.
Oldest Herbivorous Giant:
This remarkable find introduces us to Tharosaurus indicus, aptly named after India’s Thar desert, which thrived during the Middle Jurassic period. These plant-eating giants represent some of the earliest of their kind to roam the planet, rewriting the history of dinosaurs in India.
A dedicated team of researchers, including experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee and the Geological Survey of India, meticulously excavated these invaluable fossils near the city of Jaisalmer in the western state of Rajasthan. This region, once part of the ancient Tethys Ocean shoreline, now reveals its long-buried secrets.
Tharosaurus indicus belonged to the dicraeosaurid group, characterized by their elongated necks designed for herbivorous diets. This find not only marks the first dicraeosaurid discovery in India but also claims the title of the world’s oldest dicraeosaurid dinosaur.
India’s Dinosaur Legacy:
IIT Roorkee proudly announced, “India was a major center of dinosaur evolution.” This revelation underscores the significance of India’s contribution to our understanding of prehistoric life and the global distribution of these awe-inspiring creatures.
The study’s authors emphasized that Tharosaurus’s discovery offers invaluable insights into the diversity of sauropod dinosaurs during this ancient era, with the Indian subcontinent playing a prominent role.
Scientists believe that Tharosaurus indicus could be a relic of a lineage that originated in India and subsequently dispersed across Pangaea. This theory adds an intriguing dimension to the story of these ancient giants.
Among diplodocoid dinosaurs, Tharosaurus indicus stood out due to distinct features, such as a unique depression on the side of its neck bones and neural spines, suggesting the presence of unique spikes.
This groundbreaking discovery reinforces the need for increased exploration of older fossil sites across India to uncover more secrets of ancient dinosaur groups that once roamed the subcontinent.