Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Discovery of a lifetime: 35-mn-year-old fossil found in South Garo Hills village


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TURA, May 2: The world has recognised the current epoch of the Earth as being that of the Meghalayan Age and this could be further enhanced if a recent discovery by a group of explorers is vetted by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) over the discovery of a fossil in the district of South Garo Hills (SGH).
Core Geo Expeditions (CGE), a non-profit organisation may have stumbled upon one of the biggest discoveries in recent times after a fossil aged roughly over 35-40 million years was discovered in the remote village of Tolegre in South Garo Hills.
The village of Tolegre is about 10 km from the famous town of Siju and is also the place where the group undertook a three-week expedition of the subterranean parts of the area where the apparent discovery was made.
While the findings by the group of explorers is yet to be dated, extracted and verified, there is still a buzz in the air on what has been found. If what has been recovered is true, it could mark a new beginning for explorers across the world and India. It could also be the first such finding in the country.
CGE had undertaken a three-week exploration of the Tolegre area in SGH after videos on social media by some of the newly-inducted members showed a huge amount of flora and fauna around the area, most of which remained untapped.
These videos were uploaded by Milton M Sangma and Salban M Sangma after which CGE got in touch with them and they too joined in the exploration process.
As per sources, the CGE team undertook exploration of more than 9 km of subterranean areas around Tolegre. In one of those expeditions, the discovery of what looks like a fossil was found.
Information of the discovery was provided to the local authorities by the CGE team with a request that tests be undertaken by the GSI to verify their findings. A letter to this effect was sent to SGH Deputy Commissioner, Shivansh Avasthi on March 16.
In the email sent to the DC, CGE informed that, “Tudor Tamas, Milton Sangma and Salban Manda of the CGE came across a fossil during their exploration of a cave in the region. After consulting with colleagues, we think that this fossil dates back about 35-40 million years ago and belongs to either the genus Rhodocetus or Ambulocetus (extinct now). This prehistoric animal is believed to be the land ancestor of the whale. After cross checking the world database, we believe it is likely that this is the first of its kind found in India. This obviously needs to be verified through the right channels  and authorised personnel.”
The CGE team had expressed the urgent nature of the situation as the fossil sat exposed to the forces of nature and humans and most likely would be lost with the onset of monsoons.
“It needs to be examined at the earliest. We write this letter to you with a sense of urgency and trust that you will ensure that the appropriate course of action is taken,” informed the team.
When contacted on the matter, the DC stated that, “The Tourism department contacted the GSI and we are waiting for them to come to the district soon. A palaeontologist from GSI had come earlier to check and we are expecting the main GSI team to come soon to verify the findings.”
The DC added that CGE with the help of locals from the area found the fossil.
“From preliminary investigations by the GSI team, the fossil appears to be 35-40 million years old. However testing will be needed to verify the exact age and type of species after the same is extracted by the coming GSI team, in a lab,” added Avasthi.
“We are thankful to all those who helped during the process and we hope the findings, after being tested and proven, help in making the area a geo hot-spot for more such discoveries. We spent three weeks exploring and there is more left to be discovered around, in the region,” said one of the expedition members on condition of anonymity.


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