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The pakistani scientists unravel 1.1-million-year-old stegodon tusk in the province of Punjab, potentially shedding new light on the mammal’s evolutionary journey.
It is known that stegodonts are distant cousins of modern elephants. They are thought to have been present on earth from around 11 million years ago until the late Pleistocene period, which lasted until the end of the last Ice Age around 11,700 years ago.
According to the team, the tusk that has been recently unearthed measures eight feet (2.44 metres) in length and is around eight inches (20.3 cm) in diameter, making it the the largest ever discovered in the country. The stegodon tusk was discovered by scientists from the University of the Punjab’s zoology department during an expedition in the Padri district.
This discovery adds to our knowledge about the evolution of the stegodon, particularly in this region.
stated Professor Muhammad Akhtar, lead researcher of the excavation. He also added that the discovery sheds light on what the mammal’s environment was like when it was alive.
So far, the age of the stegodon tusk was determined through a radioactive dating technique that involved uranium and lead, researchers declared. However, the dating of the tusk needs further verification.
An interesting fact about stegodonts is that they were known for their long, nearly straight tusks and low-crowned teeth with peaked ridges. This indicated they were browsers or mixed feeders in a forested environment, in contrast to the high-crowned plated molars of elephants, which allowed them to graze.
On the other hand, stegodons were good swimmers. They were thought to have come from Africa and then quickly spread to Asia, where most fossils of the mammal were found.
Dr. Gerrit Van Den Bergh is a paleontologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, who has done extensive research on the ancient mammals of several countries, including Pakistan. He noted that stegodons became extinct around the time when modern humans emerged.
The same paleontologist added that around 1.2 million years ago the creatures were still thriving. In what concerns their species, they are mostly Asian, but remains have been found further afield. The expert also informs us that a molar fragment has recently been discovered in Greece.
However, this is not the first time when the excavation-site grabbed headlines for prehistoric fossils. Previously, researchers discovered ancient skulls and teeth of bovid from the Punjabi dig site. After analysis, it was found that the remains belong to subfamily Reduncinae.
Image Source: photobucket.com.