Pakistan’s land mass is rich in fossils and remains of old animals and civilizations. The recent discovery of fossils dinosaurs and other sea-related fossils has opened a new vista for the geologists and fossil experts. Jhelum in upper Punjab and Barkhan in Balochistan and Dadu in the Sind have been the areas where some discoveries have been made.
The dinosaur fossils found in Pakistan are believed to be the those of Baluchitherium (Indricotherium Transouralicum), a gigantic hornless plant eating rhinoceros like animal. “Baluchitherium” means “beast from Balochistan” in Pakistan, where fossils attributed to Paraceratherium have been discovered. It lived in Asia during the late Oligocene and early Miocene epoch of the Tertiary Period, 20-30 million years ago and went extinct 10 million years ago. It had an estimated shoulder height of nearly 8 m (26 ft) and a weight of about 10 tons, and is believed to have been the largest land mammal of all time. t stood 8 m (26 ft) high at the shoulders, 12 m (39.5 ft) long with a skull about 2 m (6.6 ft) in length, its limbs were long and massive, and it weighed about 20 tons. Its long neck and huge, pillar like legs enabled to browse among the higher branches of trees. The fact that Baluchitherium would have had to consume as much as 2 tonnes of fodder a day has led the French team of paleontologists to believe that the Balochistan of today was a very different place 20 million years ago. The area that is today largely desert and is amongst the hottest places on earth is thought to have been heavily forested at the time when the Baluchitherium roamed the area.
The most complete skeleton remains of Baluchitherium have been found by
a team of French paleontologists, led by Professor Jean-Loup Welcomme of the Natural History Museum in Paris after a hectic search operation spread over 5 long years. The fossil was discovered in the remote region of the Dera Bugti Hills in Balochistan.
Fossils of Whale have also been found in Pakistan. These fossils are said to be those of the Early Eocene, about 50 million years ago. This whale was about 6 feet (1.8 m) long and had small, vestigial rear flippers and a pointed tail (it had no flukes). The nostrils were at the tip of the snout (like land animals, not modern-day cetaceans). The whale has been named ” Rodhocetus”. The ankle bones indicate a close relationship of early whales to hooved land mammals such as hippopotami and pigs. Forefeet retain hooves on the central digits, but hind feet with slender webbed toes indicate that Rodhocetus was predominantly aquatic. The fossil remains of these mammals suggest they lived primarily in the water, but where able to pull themselves up on the shore rather like modern day seals. Perhaps the most important aspect of the new fossil discoveries is that they include the bones from the fore and hind limbs including the astralagus and cuboid (ankle) bones. The astralagus was the real clincher. This bone is part of a unique ‘double-pulley’ skeletal structure seen only in artiodactyls and fossil whales. The presence of characteristic ear bone fossils provides further support for the family relationship, the researchers believe.
Pothohar Plateau in Pakistan was once the home of the Soan civilization, which is evidenced by the discovery of fossils, tools, coins, and remains of ancient archaeological sites. The area has its links back to the Stone Age. Some of the earliest Stone Age artifacts in the world have
been found in the Pothohar region, with a probable antiquity of about 500,000 years. The crude stone implements recovered from the terraces of the Soan carry the account of human grind and endeavours in this part of the world to the inter-glacial period. The Salt Range has many Paleobotanical Anomalies that bog the minds of the scientists /geologists and question the age of the salt formation of these ranges. Thus the fossils found here remain under discussion and controversies.
Recently a number of fossils of fish, plants and other organisms have been found in a place said to be the largest fossilized coral reef in the world. The fossils ahve been found at Bunjo in the Khirthar mountain range near Gaji Shah, some 50 kilometres away from Dadu city in the Sind province of Pakistan. The reef contains several identified fossils, including fish, sponges, snails and flower plants. Experts say there is a treasure of fossils on the slopes of the Bunjo mountain. Shafqat Wadho, an irrigation engineer, discovered the mountain formed of fossils during a visit to the Khirthar range. Mr Wadho claims that the living organism had been fossilized millions of years ago and that the site was actually fossilized coral reef, once a part of an ocean bed. The area was spread over 2.5 square kilometres, which makes it the largest area in the world where fossils are found in such large quantity – in fact it looks like an open natural geological museum of an era dating back to 50 million years. (News courtesy the daily “Dawn”)