In a groundbreaking discovery, a team of researchers has unearthed India’s first Early Cretaceous shark fossils in the Jaisalmer area of Rajasthan. The findings, detailed in the research paper titled “First Early Cretaceous Sharks from India,” published in Historical Biology, shed light on a previously unknown chapter in the country’s paleontological history.
The Early Cretaceous period, approximately 115 million years ago, was a transformative era for sharks, witnessing the emergence of new species and the disappearance of older ones.
The collaborative effort involved researchers from esteemed institutions, including Triparna Ghosh from the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Jaipur; Professor Sunil Bajpai from the Department of Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee; Krishna Kumar from GSI, Kolkata; Abhayanand Singh Maurya from IIT, and Debasish Bhattacharya from GSI, Kolkata.
The fossilized remains were discovered in the Habur Formation of the Jaisalmer Basin in Rajasthan, offering a glimpse into a small assemblage of Early Cretaceous (Aptian) sharks. The Habur Formation, characterized by diverse layers, reflects a near-shore environment with occasional storm events, as indicated by ammonite beds intercalated with different sedimentary rocks.
The research, primarily based on isolated teeth, revealed the presence of five lamniform genera: Cretalamna, Dwardius, Leptostyrax, Squalicorax, and Eostriatolamia. These genera are known for their large size and predatory nature, characterized by serrated teeth, and were prominent during the Cretaceous period.
Professor Bajpai emphasized the paleobiogeographical significance of the discovery, highlighting that the records of Dwardius and Eostriatolamia might be among the oldest globally, dating an astonishing 115 million years.
Compared to their Late Cretaceous counterparts, knowledge of Early Cretaceous vertebrates in India is scarce. The study fills a significant gap by introducing the first Early Cretaceous lamniform sharks in India.
The fossils include isolated neoselachian teeth, and the study introduces Leptostyrax as a first-time record from the Indian subcontinent. Additionally, Dwardius, if correctly identified, may represent the oldest known records of its genus globally.
The fossils were meticulously studied, and wherever possible, teeth were extracted from the matrix and prepared using mechanical means, including a pneumatic air scribe. The collection is now housed in the Palaeontology division of the Geological Survey of India, Western Region, Jaipur.
The discovery’s significance lies not only in documenting the presence of five lamniform genera but also in underscoring the scarcity of prior knowledge regarding Early Cretaceous sharks in India. Professor Bajpai emphasized that the findings open up new possibilities for the collection and study of Early Cretaceous vertebrates from India.
Q. When were the Early Cretaceous shark fossils discovered in India?
Answer: The Early Cretaceous shark fossils were discovered in India approximately 115 million years ago.
Q. What is the title of the research paper detailing the discovery of these fossils?
Answer: The research paper is titled “First Early Cretaceous Sharks from India” and was published in Historical Biology, An International Journal of Paleobiology on November 18.
Q. Where were the fossils extracted from within the Jaisalmer area of Rajasthan?
Answer: The fossils were extracted from the Habur Formation of the Jaisalmer Basin in Rajasthan.
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