In a groundbreaking discovery by a team of researchers, a 1.1 million-year old stegodon tusk is revealed in Pakistan, in the central province of Punjab.
The discovery was made during an expedition by the zoology department of the University of Punjab, in the Padri village of Jhelum district.
Professor Muhammad Akhtar was the lead researcher of the group and he says that their finding reveals many details about the nature of the environment during those days and the evolutionary history of the ancient creature.
The stegodon fossil, which is believed to be over one million years old, is the largest tusk to ever be discovered in Pakistan, having 96 inches in length and 8 inches in diameter.
Paleontologist Geritt Van Den Bergh from the University of Wollongong in Australia is a well-known expert in stegodons, having conducted a comprehensive research on this species in many places around the world, including in Pakistan.
He believes that discovering a complete tusk is something quite remarkable, indeed, since they are so rare, but that the fossil still needs further examination in order to determine its exact age.
From what researchers have explained, the tusk’s age has been accurately uncovered through a radioactive dating method, which involves lead and uranium.
The Stegodon was a prehistoric animal belonging to the order Proboscidea, that lived from 11.6 million years ago until the Pleistocene period. They used to live in Asia, East and Central Africa, as well as North America.
Some of its characteristics were its low crown teeth and peaked ridges and their long, almost straight tusks, which suggests the fact that they lived in a forest-based environment and that their feeding choices were diverse.
On the other hand, elephants – their distant cousins – benefit from high-crowned plated molars – which enables them to graze.
Stegodons were excellent swimmers and are thought to have originated from Africa, having quickly expanded to Asia. Even though they belong largely to those parts, their remains have been found even further than that, with one molar fragment having been discovered in Greece.
According to Van Den Bergh, this species might have become extinct when modern humans started emerging, although there is currently no proof to support that theory.
It is worth mentioning the fact that the same excavation site from Punjab provided other unique discoveries for paleontologists. Researchers previously uncovered ancient skulls and teeth belonging to a bovid from the subfamily Reduncinae.
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