New Delhi: Rough animals like horses and rhinos emerged from a strange sheep-shaped animal that looked like a cross between a pig and a dog and roamed in India about 55 million years ago.
Experts from Johns Hopkins University, who discovered mines in Gujarat, discovered the body of a strange creature called Combatherium. A unique cousin of the Cambetherium perisodactyls (common mammal group that includes horses, rhinos and toppers) lived in the Indian subcontinent about 55 million years ago.
The first voyage to Rajasthan in 2001 was a bit of a success, “although we found only a few fish bones on that voyage, but the following year our Indian ally, Rajendra Rana, continued to explore the lignite mines in the south and on the Vastan mine in Gujarat. Came, “said Ken Rose, an emeritus professor at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study. This new one proved to be more promising for me.
“In 2004, our team managed to return to Maine, where our Belgian colleague Thirieri Smith discovered the first mammals, including the Combatherium,” Rose said in a letter published in the Vertebrate Paleontology.
Encouraged, the team returned to the mines of Gujarat and collected the organic bones of the combatherium and many other fragments despite the challenging conditions.
The combotherium represents an evolutionary stage that is more important than any known perisodactyl, supporting origin in India or for a nearby group – when it formed land contact with Asia they were scattered across other continents.
The researchers said that the animal may have evolved when India was an island. The results also confirm a theory put forward 30 years ago that horses could have originated in India while flowing north from Madagascar.
“In 1990, Crassus & Moss proposed that these orders could have evolved during Madagascar’s move northwards, spreading across the northern continents in India, during India’s collision with Asia,” Rose said.
The latest research marks the culmination of 15 years of work by a worldwide team of researchers and involves the combined exploration of the entire skeletal structure of more than 350 organisms discovered across India.
Despite the abundance of perisodactyles in the northern golisfire, the comboetherium suggests that the group developed in isolation in or around India during the Paleocene (-566-66 million years ago) when land contact with Asia was established. Was
Cambatherium, first described in 2005, is the most important member of an extinct group in the branch just before the development of perisodactyls.