Jurassic Park: Forest officials stumble upon priceless discovery near Dholavira

During a plantation drive in Dholavira village in December 2006, range forest officer (RFO) A B Khamar and forest guard P R Koli stumbled upon something which could prove to be a priceless addition to the geological treasures of India.

Khamar, stationed at Rapar North in the border district of Kutch, came across some fossilised logs at the ancient site of Dholavira on Khadir island in the Rann of Kutch. Preliminary observations indicate that the plant remains could be around 187 million years old.

On December 11, Khamar sent these logs to experts at the Geology Department of Vadodara's M S University (MSU), Deccan College, Pune and Lucknow's Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany for further study. This new find has rekindled researchers' interest in this ancient site which has been in the limelight.

Khamar said, ''A forest team planting saplings at Dholavira village spotted the plant fossils. This site is located 11 km away from the Harappan site in Dholavira. Soon, all range forest officials rushed to the spot to see for themselves.''

Preliminary examination of the samples carried out by Prof K C Tiwari at MSU's Geology Department have found that they could be from the Jurassic age, very old and rare in Western India. Earlier, such plant fossils were found in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Talking to The Indian Express, Tiwari said, ''These samples are fibrous in nature and belong to some plant fossil (pertrified wood).''

Geologically, these plant fossils are associated with the khadir formation with a sandstone-shale-limestone sequence, belonging to Jurassic Age (Aelenian-Bathonian), said Tiwari. Tests at MSU's laboratory showed that these plant remains could be 187-176 million years old and are similar to fossils found at the lathi formation (Jurassic) of Jaisalmer. A plant fossil park has been established by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) at Akal.

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