3 million-year-old tusk found in India's neighbourhood

Last Updated 26 January 2011, 17:36 IST

A three million-year-old and nine-ft-long tusk — longest in South Asia — has been found in north Pakistan providing researchers with new evidences to understand evolution of elephants in the subcontinent.

The 8.11 ft (271.8 cm) long tusk was found in Tatrot village (northern Pakistan), part of Tatrot formation of the upper Siwaliks. Its age may vary between 3.4 to 2.6 million years.

“Such a long tusk is hitherto unknown from the Siwalik sediments. It is also the longest tusk found to date in South Asia,” a team of Pakistani and Greek researchers said in the latest issue of the journal “Current Science” on Tuesday.

“The tusk is of Anancus sivalensis, a species considered to be a cousin of early elephants,” lead author Muhammed Akbar Khan from Government College University, Faisalabad said.

The early cousins of elephants were very much around when modern elephants were evolving in the Indo-Siwalik region.

The giant animals with tusks in the range of 9 ft roamed in Asia minor and northern Pakistan millions of years ago. In 2004, a team of palaeontologists from Punjab University in Lahore went on a routine winter excavation field trip from Tatrot village to Kakrala village, close to the Jhelum.

They came across a partially exposed tusk buried horizontally in stone. It took almost six years for the scientists to analyse the tusk, kept at the Zoology department in Punjab University, Lahore.

“Previous workers discovered a few specimens comprising partial molars from this area.
This tusk is almost complete and it is one of the longest tusks found in the late Pliocene era (5.33 to 2.58 million years ago) of South Asia,” he said.


Anancus sivalensis continued to evolve during the Pliocene until their disappearance from the region. The tusk seeks to suggest that the animals were capable of both grazing and browsing which is in line with drying trends in the late Pliocene of this area during 3.4 – 2.6 million years ago.

Khan and his colleagues unearthed million-year old remnants of Asiatic bison from the same area last year establishing the bison lineage in Indian subcontinent for the first time. The early bison — an early form of bull fighter — are now confine in north America, he said.

(Published 26 January 2011, 17:36 IST)

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