The study published in ‘Scientific Reports’, an international journal by publishers of Nature, reveals that the remains are 167 million years old and belong to a new species, unknown to scientists thus far.
It has been named ‘Tharosaurus indicus’, the first name referring to the ‘Thar desert’ where the fossils were found, and the second after its country of origin.According to the scientists, fossils of dicraeosaurid dinosaurs have been found previously in North and South Americas, Africa and China, but such fossils were not known from India.
“A systematic fossil exploration and excavation programme initiated by GSI in 2018 in the Middle Jurassic rocks in the Jaisalmer region of Rajasthan has led to this discovery,” said Prof Sunil Bajpai, chair professor of vertebrate paleontology in the department of earth sciences at IIT-Roorkee, who carried out a detailed study of the fossils for around five years along with his colleague Debajit Datta, a national postdoctoral fellow.
The rocks in which the fossils were found are dated to be around 167 million years old, which makes this new Indian sauropod not only the oldest known dicraeosaurid but also globally the oldest diplodocoid (broader group which includes dicraeosaurids and other closely related sauropods). Theories so far had suggested that the oldest dicraeosaurid was from China (about 166-164 million years old).