Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Geology
- A team of Indian and French researchers have concluded that the hot arid desert of Kutch was once a humid sub-tropical forest with a variety of birds, freshwater fish and possibly giraffes and rhinos.
- Their conclusions are based on the discovery of a tranche of vertebrate fossils from nearly 14 million years ago in a geological time period known as the Miocene.
- The fossils, consisting mostly of ribs, and parts of teeth and bones, were unearthed from Palasava village of Rapar taluk in Kutch, Gujarat.
Transformation from a ‘Forest’ to a ‘Desert’
- The fossil finds suggest that a rich diversity of fauna and flora sustained in warm, humid/wet, tropical to sub-tropical environmental conditions during the Middle Miocene (about 14 million years ago).
- The bulk of fossils unearthed in Kutch have so far been mainly marine organisms, due to their proximity to the Arabian Sea.
- Geological changes eventually closed off the salt-flats’ connection to the sea and the region turned into a large lake, eventually becoming salty wetlands.
- The findings point to clues on how mammals dispersed between Africa and the Indian subcontinent when part of India was in the Gondwanaland supercontinent that existed nearly 300 million years ago.
- The findings showed Kutch to be a potential treasure trove of mammal fossils with possible continuity to vertebrate fossils in the Siwalik, spanning Pakistan to Nepal.
- The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago (Ma).
- The Miocene is preceded by the Oligocene of the Paleogene Period and is followed by the Pliocene.
[Source: The Hindu]