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Dinosaur fossils fast vanishing from India

April 27, 2005 16:42 IST

Tribals in parts of India are selling dinosaur fossils to foreigners at a fraction of its value in the international market, fast depleting India's rich fossil reserve, an expert said.

Dr Ashu Khosla, who was recently awarded the prestigious Young Scientist Fast Track Award for the third time by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, said the tribal population and the poor in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are excavating the fossils unscientifically. He said the trend is worrying the scientists of the local Punjab University's department of Geology.

Khosla has been working for over 14 years excavating fossil dinosaur skeletal remains from the Cretaceous deposits (6.5 - 8 crore years old) in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

"Some tribes, especially Bheel, store dinosaur fossil eggs in their houses and sell them to foreigners at a price ranging between Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 per egg," said the scientist.

"It is unfortunate that India is ignorant about the value of these precious fossils of dinosaurs," he said.

According to the scientist, the price of fossilised dinosaur egg is around Rs 2.5 lakh in the international market. In the past 14 years, around 15,000 eggs of the monstrous reptiles, some of them up to 25 metres in length, had been discovered in India, said Khosla.

More recently, the scientist excavated two big femur bones of a plant-eating dinosaur (Sauropod) from 80 million years old deposits in Madhya Pradesh's Dhar district. According to him, these gigantic bones are about 1.2 metres in length and the total length of the animal was 25 metres and is the oldest fossil record of dinosaurs from Central India.

The scientist said Indian dinosaur nesting sites are extensive and found along the Narmada River from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to Kutch in Gujarat. The fossils belong to the late Cretaceous period, dating back to about 65 million years, Khosla said.

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