100-million-year-old sauropod dinosaur bones found in Meghalaya
RESEARCHERS have identified fossil bone fragments of sauropod dinosaurs dating from around 100 million years ago in an area around the West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya. The findings that have yet to be published were made during a recent field visit by researchers from the Geological Survey of India’s paleontology division in the northeast. GSI researchers noted that this is the first record of sauropods of probable titanosaur origin found in the region. Sauropods had very long necks, long tails, small heads compared to the rest of their body, and four thick pillar-shaped legs. They are notable for the enormous sizes attained by some species, and the group includes the largest animals to ever live on earth.
The discovery makes Meghalaya the fifth state in India after Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and the only state in the northeast to report bones of Sauropods with Titanosaurian affinity, they said. Titanosaurs were a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, comprising genera from Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. “Meghalaya dinosaur bones were reported by GSI in 2001, but they were too fragmentary and poorly preserved to understand its taxonomic identification,” said Arindam Roy, senior geologist, division of paleontology, GSI. “The current discovery of bones takes place during fieldwork in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. The team last visited in February 2021.
The fossils are likely from the Late Cretaceous, around 100 million years ago, ”Roy told PTI. He noted that the best preserved fossils are the limb bones, adding the type of curvature, the development of the lateral and proximal margins of the partially preserved bone indicate that it is a humerus bone. He noted, however, that the conclusions are drawn from preliminary studies and that detailed work is underway. The bone fragments were collected on very coarse-grained, poorly sorted, purplish to greenish arkosic sandstones, encrusted with beds of pebbles.
More than twenty-five, mostly fragmentary, disarticulated bone specimens have been recovered, which are of different sizes and appear as isolated specimens, but some of them have been found in close proximity to each other, the researchers said. Taxonomic identification down to the genus level is difficult due to the poorly preserved, incomplete and fragmentary nature of the bones and most of the recovered bones are partially petrified and partially replaced, they said. Therefore, only three of the best preserved could be studied. The largest is a partially preserved limb bone 55 centimeters (cm) long. It is comparable to the average length of the humerus of titanosaurids.