New Delhi: Horseshoes such as horses and rhinos evolved from a curious sheep-sized animal that looked like a cross between pigs and dogs and roamed in India nearly 55 million years ago, the researcher has stated.
Experts from Johns Hopkins University while exploring mines in Gujarat discovered the remains of a strange creature called Cambaytherium. The Cambaytherium is an extinct relative of the perissodactyls (a group of mammals including horses, rhinos and tapirs) that lived on the Indian subcontinent almost 55 million years ago.
The first trip to Rajasthan in 2001 was unsuccessful, “Although we found only a few herringbone during that trip, the following year our Indian colleague Rajendra Rana continued to explore. lignite mines south and to the Vastan mine in Gujarat, “said Ken Rose, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study. This new mine shows much more promise.
“In 2004, our team was able to return to the mine where our Belgian collaborator, Thierry Smith, found it,”; Rose said in an article in the Journal of Paleontology. early mammal fossils, including the Cambaytherium ”.
Encouraged, the team returned to the mines in Gujarat and collected fossil bones of Cambaytherium and many other vertebrate animals, despite the challenging conditions.
Cambaytherium represents a more primitive evolutionary phase than any known perissodactyl, aiding the group’s origins in or near India – before they dispersed to other continents when forming a land link. Asia.
The animal may have evolved at a time when India was still an island, researchers say. The results also confirm a hypothesis first proposed 30 years ago that the horse’s origin probably originated in India during drift north from Madagascar.
“In 1990, Krause & Maas proposed that these orders may have developed in India, in the process of drifting north from Madagascar, scattering across the northern continents when India collided with Europe. Ah, ”said Rose.
The latest discovery is the culmination of 15 years of work by a team of global researchers and involves splicing Cambaytherium’s complete skeleton anatomy from more than 350 fossils unearthed across India.
Despite the abundance of perissodactyls in the Northern Hemisphere, Cambaytherium suggests that this group may have evolved isolated in or near India during the Paleocene (66-56 million years ago), before dispersing into another continent when the land link with Asia takes shape.
Cambaytherium, first described in 2005, was the most primitive member of an extinct group that branched out just before the evolution of perissodactyls.