The year 2016 brought with it a significant achievement for Paleontologists in Pakistan. As it marked the discovery of 1.1 million-year-old Stegodon tusk.
This discovery was made by a team of Pakistani scientists from Zoology department of the University of Punjab. Which had set out on a research mission in the central province of Punjab. According to a spokesman of the University named Khurram Shehzad, the expedition was being carried out in Padri village located in Jhelum district.
Do you know: Paleontology is the study of prehistoric life on Earth. Going as far back as 3.8 billion years ago and is what you could call a combination of Geology (rocks) and Biology. (Source: Wikipedia)
Stegodon means “roofed tooth” in Greek. Stegodon is a genus of the subfamily of Stegodontinae. It is placed in the family Elephantidae as well as Stegodontidae. This species is estimated to have been present on the earth 1100 million years ago. Stegodon was one of the largest Proboscideans. They inhabited the earth in the Pleistocene period and became extinct after the last Ice Age around 11,700 years ago.
The length of the tusk discovered was measured to be eight feet (2.44 meters). The diameter was calculated to be eight inches (20.3 cm). The team of Pakistani Scientist claimed it to be the largest of all discoveries made in the field of paleontology in Pakistan.
Dr. Gerrit Van Den Bergh who is a renowned Paleontologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia. He has done a lot of research on mammals in Pakistan as well. Commending the efforts of Pakistani scientists he said,
If you have a complete tusk, that’s quite special — they are quite rare.
His comment labels this discovery as a milestone for Pakistan.
This team of Pakistani scientists was led by Professor Muhammad Akhtar. He expressed his satisfaction regarding the discovery by saying that the discovery has added to their knowledge regarding the evolution of Stegodon, particularly in central Punjab. According to him, this discovery provided clues regarding the environment in the region and the life span of the species.
This is not the first time that Pakistan has been a ground to valuable discoveries and researches in the field of Paleontology and Geology. The soil of Pakistan has proved to be quite fertile in this regard. The Pakistani province of Baluchistan is rich in fossils as well as minerals. In 1990, an English Paleontologist Sir Clive Forster Cooper discovered the bones of the largest land mammal in Baluchistan. Pertaining to its humongous estimated size it was named as the “Beast of Baluchistan”.
In early 1997, a renowned French Paleontologist Jean-Loup Welcomme discovered the first finger of the Baluchitherium in a stony valley near Dera Bugti under “Mission Paleontologique Francoise au Baluchistan” in a stony valley near Dera Bugti. Baluchitherium is the largest land mammal ever to have lived on Earth.
As there is a 30 million years old history of biodiversity in Pakistan, the French Paleontologists have shown interest in training Pakistani scientists in the relevant field and doing further research and expeditions in Pakistan.
In 2011, another world-renowned Paleontologist Gregoire Metais led a team of scientists including Pakistani scientist. Different geological entities were searched at the Manchar, Kirthar, Ranikot and Lakhra areas of Sind. They succeeded in gathering some 200 kilograms of precious samples and fossils. The fossils unearthed by the team included tooth crocodyliform, fossilized wood, bivalves and remains of other important invertebrate faunas. A huge diversity of invertebrates at Lakhra formation in Sind was recognized.
Owing to the biodiversity and versatility in Pakistan, Pakistani scientists have a way to go and a golden chance to flourish and out do in the field of Geology and Paleontology. All they need is the proper channel of Fund.
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