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'Rajasaurus' stalked the banks of Narmada

By Arunkumar Bhatt

Reuters

A reconstructed image of an Indian dinosaur on display at a media gathering in Mumbai on Wednesday.

MUMBAI Aug. 13. India had its own dinosaur, roaming about on the banks of the Narmada about 6.5 crore years ago. A joint Indo-American team of paleontologists and geologists, which found the fossil, have given it a Sanskrit-Latin zoological name, `Rajasaurus Narmadensis!'

This means `princely reptile from the Narmada', announced Paul Sereno of the Chicago University and Ashok Sahni of the Punjab University, here today. They worked with Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan and Devdutt Bhatt of the Geological Survey of India.

`Rajasaurus' was a heavy-built animal 30 feet long and about five feet tall, having a crest of horn on its head. It was carnivorous and would have pursued its prey that could have been the long-necked sauropod dinosaur that roamed about south Gujarat amidst palm trees, the dominant vegetation of the area at the time.

Paleontologists found the fossil bones strewn about a place at Rhioli village near the river. Prof. Sahni mapped the find, indicating where exactly each bone was found.

The map served as a primary design of the animal's skeleton.

A cast of each bone was made to reconstruct the anatomy and identify the missing portions as experts visualised. They shaped up 65 million-year-old bones into a dinosaur. The study of the complete anatomy, the location and the eco-system obtained at the time provide a fair idea about the dinosaur's behaviour.

`Rajasaurus' was related to the species on continental Africa, Madagascar and South Africa and it was in existence when the age of dinosaurs was coming to a close, said Dr. Sereno, who is also an explorer-in-residence of the National Geographic Channel, which funded the project. The channel is going to telecast a five-part serial on the discovery, beginning August 25.

Enough literature is available to suggest that dinosaurs lived in India.

The first fossil bones discovery dates back to 1828 when an Army officer, Capt. William Seline found them near Jabalpur.

The geologist studied the rock conditions that had preserved the fossil.

The subsequent finds, including the latest one at Rhioli, were on the extension of the same rock. This find represents the first ever-assembled skull of a dinosaur of any kind in India.

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