Pakistani scientists have allegedly located a 1.1 million-year-old stegodon tusk in the central province of Punjab – a historical region on northwestern India and northern Pakistan - Phys.org writes.
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Stegodons are believed to be a cousin of today’s elephants, and must have roamed the Earth 11 million years ago till the end of the late Pleistocene period which extended to the end of the last Ice Age around 11,700 years ago.
The tusk the researchers unearthed is about 8 feet or 2.44 meters in length and measures about 8 inches or 20.3 centimeters in diameter – the largest stegodon tusk ever found in Punjab.
The researchers were from the zoology department of the University of Punjab, they unearthed the tusk when they conducted an expedition to Padri village at Jhelum district.
"This discovery adds to our knowledge about the evolution of the stegodon, particularly in this region,” said Professor Muhammad Akhtar, leader of the team. "It also sheds light on what the environment was like at the time of the animal's life."
A paleontologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, Dr. Gerrit Van Den Bergh, expressed delight at the discovery of the tusk but requested for concrete verifications to be done, and this is where actual dating came in – prompting the researchers to apply uranium-lead radioactive technique to obtain the actual dating of the tusk.
Stegodons’ teeth are low-crowned with peaked ridges in spite of their straight tusks, indicating they fed on various items in a forest, contrary to the molars of elephants and mammoths which made them graze on food. This extinct animal is also supposed to be a good swimmer and must have come from Africa before crossing over to Asia.
"Around 1.2 million years ago they were still thriving," said Van Den Bergh. "They are mostly an Asian species but remains have been found further afield. Recently a molar fragment was discovered in Greece."
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