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Fact Check | Dinosaurs and India: a very old story, first told in 1828

India was a hotspot for dinosaur evolution and breeding before extinction. A dinosaur named Rajasaurus had originated in India.”

Written by Sowmiya Ashok | New Delhi |
Updated: January 8, 2019 8:23:50 am
Brahma, dinosaurs, Vedas, Lord Brahma, Indian Science Congress, Rajasaurus, Panjab University, who discovered dinosaurs, ancient texts, science, Indian Express Rajasaurus and man, their relative sizes — an artist’s impression.

Panjab University geologist Ashu Khosla Sunday said that “Lord Brahma… was completely aware of the existence of dinosaurs and even mentioned them in Vedas… Lord Brahma discovered dinosaurs’ existence on earth. India was a hotspot for dinosaur evolution and breeding before extinction. A dinosaur named Rajasaurus had originated in India.”

Veteran geologist Ashok Sahni told The Indian Express that dinosaurs have been studied in India for over 175 years in three distinct phases: the first lasting about 100 years until 1935, the second “quieter” phase that extended for the next 20 years, and the phase from the 1960s onward, which has seen fairly active research.

Records show that dinosaurs in India existed from the Late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous — or between 200 million years and 65 million years ago. Dinosaur remains have been found over the years in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. “More recently, they have been discovered in Meghalaya and in Pakistan, if you think of the broader subcontinent,” Prof Sahni said.

Prof Sahni was an Emeritus Professor at Panjab University. Khosla was his PhD student, and finds mention in his book Dinosaurs of India as an expert on dinosaur eggs and nests. “It is very unfortunate that such statements are made. I consider it a mockery of science,” Prof Sahni said about Khosla’s statements.

Dinosaur bones were discovered in India in 1828 by Capt William H Sleeman of the East India Company army. His was one among many explorations for fossils initially carried out by Army personnel, medical doctors and priests who chanced upon them just by being “fairly literate and mobile at the time”. Sleeman’s discovery, near Jabalpur, came only four years after the first description of a Megalosauras by William Buckland in 1824.




It is difficult to say how many kinds were present in India unless there is conclusive data to show how one species differed from another. A modest estimate suggests a diversity of about 30 forms.

Barapasaurus tagorei, an early sauropod, stood 4 m tall, measured 24 m in length. Bone specimens were unearthed between 1958 and 1961. Remains of another large Indian dinosaur, Isisaurus (Titarosaurus) colberti have been found near Wardha; could emerge bigger than Barapasaurus tagorei once the full skeleton can be put together.

The Tyrannosaurus rex, most storied of all dinosaurs and considered the most fearsome eating machine to have evolved on Earth, was not found in India. The fiercest of all Indian dinosaurs was probably the Rajasaurus narmadensis, followed by another specimen of the Abelisauridae family, the Indosuchus raptorius.

The first dinosaur bones in India were discovered by Maj Gen William Henry Sleeman, then a Captain in the East India Company, in 1828 at a foot of the Bara Simla Hill in Jabalpur Cantonment. Among Indian palaeontologists, Profs R Narayana Rao and P Sampath Iyengar made discoveries in 1927, and D Chakravarty in 1933 and 1935. In the modern period of exploration (since 1960) the foremost name has been that of Sohan Lal Jain, after whom the Jainosaurus, a large herbivorous titanosaurian dinosaur is named.

Source: Dinosaurs Of India, by Ashok Sahni

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