Skip to comments.New Dinosaur Species Found in India
Posted on 08/13/2003 9:02:05 PM PDT by nwrep
2 hours, 55 minutes ago
By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press Writer
BOMBAY, India - U.S. and Indian scientists said Wednesday they have discovered a new carnivorous dinosaur species in India after finding bones in the western part of the country.
The new dinosaur species was named Rajasaurus narmadensis, or "Regal reptile from the Narmada," after the Narmada River region where the bones were found.
The dinosaurs were between 25-30 feet long, had a horn above their skulls, were relatively heavy and walked on two legs, scientists said. They preyed on long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs on the Indian subcontinent during the Cretaceous Period at the end of the dinosaur age, 65 million years ago.
"It's fabulous to be able to see this dinosaur which lived as the age of dinosaurs came to a close," said Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago. "It was a significant predator that was related to species on continental Africa, Madagascar and South America."
Working with Indian scientists, Sereno and paleontologist Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan reconstructed the dinosaur skull in a project funded partly by the National Geographic (news - web sites) Society.
A model of the assembled skull was presented Wednesday by the American scientists to their counterparts from Punjab University in northern India and the Geological Survey of India during a Bombay news conference.
Scientists said they hope the discovery will help explain the extinction of the dinosaurs and the shifting of the continents how India separated from Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Antarctica and collided with Asia.
The dinosaur bones were discovered during the past 18 years by Indian scientists Suresh Srivastava of the Geological Survey of India and Ashok Sahni, a paleontologist at Punjab University.
When the bones were examined, "we realized we had a partial skeleton of an undiscovered species," Sereno said.
The scientists said they believe the Rajasaurus roamed the Southern Hemisphere land masses of present-day Madagascar, Africa and South America.
"People don't realize dinosaurs are the only large-bodied animal that lived, evolved and died at a time when all continents were united," Sereno said.
The cause of the dinosaurs' extinction is still debated by scientists. The Rajasaurus discovery may provide crucial clues, Sereno said.
India has seen quite a few paleontological discoveries recently.
In 1997, villagers discovered about 300 fossilized dinosaur eggs in Pisdura, 440 miles northeast of Bombay, that Indian scientists said were laid by four-legged, long-necked vegetarian creatures.
Indian scientists said the dinosaur embryos in the eggs may have suffocated during volcanic eruptions.
But weren't, apparently...
MAMMOTH TALESBack in Blather 1.52, mention was made of having seen and heard retired Royal Engineer Colonel John Blashford-Snell at UnCon98, speaking about his 'Mammoth Hunt' to Nepal.
Back then, Blather promised to bring you a discussion of the book *Mammoth Hunt -- In Search of the Giant Elephants of Nepal*, co-written by Blashford-Snell with actress Rula Lenska. Well, finally perused, and finally closed a matter of hours ago, *Mammoth Hunt* is one of those rare books that can only be described as a Damned Good Read.
Around 1987, Blashford-Snell (hitherto referred to as JBS) was made aware of rumours concerning 'giant mammoths' which were pillaging villages in remote areas of Nepal. JBS, who has been leading expeditions to remote regions for many years -- with Operation Raleigh, Discovery Expeditions and the Scientific Exploration Society -- decided that Nepal was a good place to bring the *clients* of Discovery Expeditions. In all, some seven separate expeditions were executed between 1991 and 1997, the first team containing many tired and listless executives in need of a good shaking up, as well as one Mark O'Shea, described as being a 'mad Irish snake expert'.
While *Mammoth Hunt* isn't the kind of book usually discussed in Blather, i.e. it doesn't deal with phenomenalism, at least not in any deliberate sense, *Mammoth Hunt* would be of definite interest to everyone from the armchair-adventurer, those interested in travelling to more *exotic* locations, and to readers with even just a passing interest in cryptozoology.
Not that these expeditions were of a consciously cryptozoological nature -- the word doesn't appear in the book -- but it does illustrate how rumours of apparently impossibly animals, such as live mammoths, rubbished by many, did in fact have some element of 'truth' to them.
The entire seven year adventure holds tales of rafting down the Karnali river, drives along precarious cliff-top roads and horrendous bus crashes, remote tribes who shun agriculture, army anti-poaching squads who live in the woods, lost Babylonic citadels in the jungle, whitewater rafting, encounters with tigers, rhino, leeches and savage sloths. . . and the elephants, both wild and domesticated.
When scouting for the 'Beasts of Bardia' -- Bardia being the forest where the giant elephants had been seen -- JBS and his teams of Europeans, Nepalese naturalists, rafters, mahouts and phanits (both classes of elephant drivers), quite rightly decided to travel on tame elephants. And so we are introduced to these intelligent animals and their engaging personalities. Most of us are unaware that some elephants can respond to between thirty and sixty different verbal commands, or that, in Lenska's words 'they can be mischievous and cheeky, sad and depressed, volatile and bad tempered, lazy and frisky, sulky and cuddly and happy. They also cry with fear and pain and emotional hurt.'
After much searching. the expeditions found two large temperamental and peculiar-looking bull elephants wandering about the woods, the larger one becoming known as *Raja Gaj* - meaning King Elephant, while the smaller was known as *Kancha* -- Youngest. The elephants were much larger than the average Indian elephant, with a shoulder height of over 11ft (3.35m) for Raja Gaj, and they had a strange sloping back, protuberant forehead, and a thick tail.
Finding such huge volatile playboys lolling about the jungle seems to have brought its own problems, as these elephants were possibly exiles from a herd, led by a *bigger* bull. One particular encounter with Raja Gaj was even more hair-raising than normal, as he was in *musth* - male heat, with irritating yellow fluid seeping from behind his eye. Not only was the King in search of lurve, he was angry too, and I'm sure that even sitting in a *howdah* (seat on an elephants back) of even the fiercest of matriarchal elephants can't have felt too safe. In fact, Madu Mala Kali (Honey Blossom), the aforementioned matriarch saw fit, in the middle of night, to briefly elope with Raja Gaj -- he snapped her chains effortlessly, but she was reclaimed (the word 'recapture' seems inappropriate here) without too much effort.
DNA of these huge wild creatures was recovered, from their dung, and while they don't seem to be 'mammoths' as such, they are certainly in a class of their own. Dr Adrian Lister, a palaeontologist who was on three trips to Bardia with JBS, gave the following statement in October 1995:
'Within the Asian elephants we have to compare the Nepalese beasts with populations in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Burma, to see if the Nepalese animals are genetically distinct, maybe forming grouping with nearby populations from northern India. It would not surprise me to find that the Nepalese population has genetic variability, due to a phenomenon we call "bottlenecking", a result of isolation and the small numbers in the area. This might in turn account for the unusual anatomy of the Bardia elephants.'
In this writer's opinion, and even though JBS found this news 'somewhat disappointing', these finding are no less magical than finding a prehistoric survivor. It's always intriguing to consider many of the allegations of mysterious animals, while respecting the 1938 discovery of a living coelacanth, previously only known from fossil records. But there are others -- and *Nessie* is no exception -- that seem to be continuously interpreted as living prehistoric animals, with the intimation that any other possibility, e.g. a new mammal, is somehow less interesting.
By the time you read this issue of Blather its author will be at Lake Seljord in Norway, help to ascertain facts about the existence of an alleged mysterious water animal. While we would be thrilled to find a new species, it doesn't have to be a *dinosaur*.
*Mammoth Hunt -- In Search of the Giant Elephants of Nepal*
John Blashford-Snell and Rula Lenska
Harper Collins 1997
'All profits from the sale of this book will be used by the Scientific Exploration Society for the protection of and preservation of endangered wildlife, and the Asian elephant in particular'
Dave (daev) Walsh
Written on July 23rd, 1998
A new supspecies of the Indian elephant would certainly be an interesting discovery, and I don't discount the possibility of finding new large or lost species, even today. Just a few years ago, an new subspecies of the Javan rhinocerous was discovered in Vietnam.
Us Science Museams looking to outsource work away from more expensive American Dinosaurs..
If you want on the new list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...
Wow, the show never stops, does it?
Well said, Oh Mighty Keeper of the Flame.
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