LAHORE: A researcher of the Punjab University’s Zoology Department on Saturday unearthed the skull of a stegodon female elephant. The species is a sister group of the mammoth.
The fossil was found near Panjan Sher Shahana in Gujrat on Thursday. The researcher took two days to excavate it without damaging the fossil.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Syed Ghyour Abbas said the site where the skull had been found was known as ‘sawalik’, an international designation for sites where pre-historic fossils were often found. He said 20,000 to 1.1 million-year old animal bones had been found in the area. However, it was the first time a pre-historic elephant skull was found there.
He said the skull would be moved to a hydrocarbon research laboratory for tests to determine the age and the family of the elephant.
He said the right tusk was intact and the left tusk was partially broken. “The tusks are small. It means that it is a female,” he said. “Overall, it is in a good condition. The ventral side is slightly damaged but the posterior is fine,” he added.
Abbas said he had been carrying out excavations in Pabi for over a year. He said that he had found remains of deer, rhinos and pigs during his research.
“There is a dearth of research on animal remains in this site,” he said. “It is believed that these animals migrated to the area because there was a large body of water here.”
Abbas said Sar Dhok, seven kilometres from Panjan, was known for prehistoric animal fossils.
He said earlier, researchers had found a palate of a prehistoric animal in Sar Dhok. He said a local of the area had told him that he had been seeing the palate there for nearly 40 years. He said the palate found belonged to elephas, a mammal closer to the modern elephant.
Dr Muhammad Akhtar, a professor of the Zoology Department at PU, said measurements of the skull showed it was as big as that of a modern elephant.
“The skull weighs 120kg. It is 38-centimetres-long and 28-centimetres-wide,” he said.
“The discovery is important for scientists to understand the evolution of the Asian elephant,” he said.
He said in December, a team would undertake further excavations in the area where the skull was found.
The skull will be kept at the Jhelum Campus of the Punjab University. Abbas said that they would form a fossil research and display centre at the campus to allow people to study it.