Jammu and Kashmir: Astonishing discovery pins Ramnagar’s age to 2.5-4 million years


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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, June 29: Science startles and its discoveries demolish the established knowledge, revealing that life on earth dates back to millions of years back in the unclaimed history of the land.

Scientists have just stumbled upon fossils of a small mammal, resembling squirrels, called treeshrew, and it’s believed to belong to a new genus and species from Ramnagar in Jammu and Kashmir.

“This treeshrew currently represents the oldest record of fossil tupaiids in the Siwaliks, extending their time range by 2.5–4.0 million years in the region,” said the Ministry of Science and Technology in an official statement on Wednesday.

The new findings, said the ministry, can help provide a more precise age estimate for the Ramnagar locality in the Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Siwalik sediments document the evolution of many mammalian groups from the middle Miocene through Pleistocene, including treeshrews, hedgehogs, and other small mammals.

“Treeshrews, in particular, are very rare elements of the fossil record, with only a few species known throughout the entire Cenozoic era,” added the ministry in its statement.

Scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), an autonomous institute of Department of Science and Technology (DST), found fossils of the new genus and species of treeshrew (known as Sivatupaia ramnagarensis n. gen. n. sp) from the middle Miocene, which extends from 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago, site of Ramnagar.

“Dietary analyses suggest that the new tupaiid was probably adapted for a less mechanically challenging or more fruit eating diet compared to other extant and fossil tupaiids. Also, new hedgehog and rodent specimens have been described from this same fossil locality. The murine rodents are of particular importance, because different species and dental features are well-known to be time sensitive, as has been documented throughout a continuous, time-controlled Siwalik sequence on the Potwar Plateau of Pakistan,” added the ministry in the statement.

It also stated that the identification of these time sensitive dental features and species in the current collection help to provide a more precise age estimate for this Ramnagar locality as between 12.7-11.6 million years.

“This work was carried out by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Sehgal (leading author), Dr. Ningthoujam Premjit Singh (corresponding author) and Abhishek Pratap Singh from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, India in association with researches from Panjab University Chandigarh (Dr. Rajeev Patnaik); Hunter College of the City University of New York, USA (Dr. Christopher C. Gilbert); University of Southern California, Los Angeles (Dr. Biren A. Patel); Arizona State University, USA (Dr. Christopher J. Campisano); American Museum of Natural History, USA (Dr. Keegan R. Selig),” said the ministry in the statement.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Paleontology.

The newly described specimens are housed in the repository of Wadia Institute.

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