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Palaeocene period Mayfly fossils found in Rajasthan

jaipur Updated: Apr 18, 2018 22:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jodhpur

A rare trace fossil colony created by aquatic insect mayfly spotted at Gehun village near Barmer city.(HT Photo)

Geologists have found a cluster of trace fossils of aquatic insect mayfly dating back to millions of years in Rajasthan’s Barmer in a first-of-its kind discovery in India.

These clusters of millions of “iron rinds” found at Gehun village near Barmer city is believed to be dated back to early Palaeocene period that lasted from about 55 to 65 million years ago, the geologists said, adding this was a time marked by the demise of non-avian dinosaurs.

The discovery indicates that the wasteland areas of western Rajasthan were dense forest with no dearth of water during that period, geologists say.

These two-dimensional almond and j-shaped trace fossils that caught the eyes of geologists during field work around Barmer city were “almost perfectly intact,” said professor SC Mathur, the former head of geology department in Jai Narayan Vyas University, Jodhpur.

A research paper by the geology department on the discovery was published in the April issue of the “Current Science,” a science journal.

These fossils, well preserved in wood logs (stems), are the first ever such reporting from India and fourth in the world.

Assistant professors of geology and zoology department of the university V.S.Parihar and Dr.S.L.Nama, who were part of the team that made the discovery, said these fossils are known as Asthenopodichnium lithuanicum and Lignorum.

“This new find also gives insight into how mayfly constructed their colonies in the wood logs for shelter and how they dispersed about 55 to 65 million years ago,” Mathur said.

Lead author of the article NS Shekhawat said: “Everyone now knows that tropical region around the world has the highest diversity of species, but we have very little knowledge abour how diverse the tropics were from Jurassic up to Palaeocene period in the western Rajasthan.”

“Discoveries like our trace fossil tell us that the tropics were full of life and diversity even millions of years ago,” he added.

The presence of these fossils in sandstone also give clue that this rock could be a good reservoir of petroleum deposits and to ascertain that more research is needed, Mathur said.

He said local administration should conserve the site and also develop it as a fossil park (similar to Akal Fossil Park in Jaisalmer) so that future generation can see rare fossils and study and admire them.

He said Barmer basin is a geologically excellent site in India similar to that of other mega bio-diverse region of the world, as his team since last one decade, discovered many fossils of dinosaurs, fishes, turtle, crocodile, gastropods and many trace fossils from similar sandstone sequences in western Rajasthan.

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 22:21 IST