In a remarkable feat, three amateur explorers have stumbled upon more than 100 fossilised eggs of dinosaurs in Madhya Pradesh. The eggs, belonging to the Cretaceous era (approximately 144 to 65 million years ago) have been discovered in the Kukshi-Bagh area of Dhar district, some 150 kms south-west of Indore.
Experts say the find is a significant step in the study of pre-historic life in the Narmada Valley, which has been attracting palaeontologists from across the world since 1818.
“All the eggs were discovered from a single nesting site in a start to end exploration for 18 hours at the site in Kukshi-Bagh area, 40 kms from Manavar. As many as 6-8 eggs were found per nest,” an excited Vishal Verma, president of the Mangal Panchayatan Parishad, a group of amateur explorers, told Hindustan Times from the site.
“The eggs are from Upper Cretaceous era when the dinosaurs were yet to be extinct. These eggs can be categorised in three types of soropaud dinosaurs, which were herbivorous. These huge animals used to come from far away areas to lay eggs on the sandy banks of the rivers in this area, identified scientifically as Lameta bed,” Verma said.
The team —- comprising two other members Rajesh Chouhan and Govind Verma —- has been working for more than a decade in the area, near the Hathni river, a tributary of the Narmada, which flows less than 50 kms south of the nesting site.
“From the size of the eggs, we can estimate that these dinosaurs were 40-90 feet in length,” Verma said.d. Along with the fossilised eggs, the team also discovered footprints of the dinosaurs through which they could also trace the ‘track way’ of the heavy animals now extinct for a few million years.
This discovery is significant in view of the information it can give about their movement in the region. The discovery was made in December end 2006 but the team delayed the announcement, as they wanted to establish the identity of the fossils from experts.
“It was just last week that geologist Dr Tapas Ganguly from Howrah University had come personally to Manavar to establish the identity of the fossils.”
The Parishad had earlier discovered fossilised dinosaur bones in the region. Others too have reported findings of eggs, which were fewer in number (1-2) and scattered over a large area.
This is the first time that explorers have found out more than 100 eggs in a single nesting site along with the footprints.
Geological Survey of India’s former Director (Palaeontology) Dr Arun Sonakia, who was also at the site, told this correspondent over the telephone, “It’s a good job done by amateurs. With this find, the scientists would be able to know more about the spread of the dinosaurs. It can also throw light on the reasons of their extinction.”
“Plus, the nesting site and a large number of fossilized eggs would also throw light on the variety of dinosaurs that existed in the Cretaceous era,” Sonakia added.
“As this is such an important discovery, we have decided to hand over the eggs to the administration,” Chouhan said. Chief Executive Officer Zilla Panchayat Navneet Kothari said over that telephone from Dhar, “We have now offered them a place to keep the eggs at Chhappan Mahal museum at Mandu.”
“After discussions with the Archeological Survey of India and the Geological Survey of India, we would decide what to do with the eggs.”
The Parishad had earlier discovered various fossils of dinosaurs and amphibians of the Upper Cretaceous age in the Nimad sand stones. “These are the region’s oldest sedimentary rocks and these fossils are dated even prior to this,” Verma said.
The Mangal Panchayatan Parishad had earlier also discovered ‘stoops’ which are more than 2000 years old. Their other findings contain treasures like jewellery made from shells, elephant teeth and weapons from bones and stone.
The Parishad has set up a museum at Mandu, a tourist place in Dhar district, where the latest treasure trove would be shifted.
“We want to convert the museum into an advanced scientific and archeological research and information centre,” Verma said.