International experts visit JU to study the Pampore elephant fossil

JAMMU: The research team comprising of Dr. Nicolas Ashton (an archaeologist from the British Museum, London), Simon Parfitt (expert on butchery traces on fossil bones at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London and Natural History Museum, London), Marc Dickinson (expert on dating from York University, UK) and Advait Juker (taxonomist from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington DC) arrived in Jammu yesterday.

The team was invited by Professor G. M. Bhat for collaborative research on the fossil elephant and stone tools.

The team met with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Manoj Dhar this morning and briefed him about the importance of the find.

The Vice-Chancellor extended a warm welcome to the team and discussed with them various aspects of human antiquity in Kashmir and migratory routes of the animals and their association with early humans. He thanked the visiting team for taking up this collaborative work and hoped this will shed new light on the human and animal migration and evolution in this part of the world.

They are based in the Wadia Museum of Natural History, University of Jammu in connection with studies on a fossil elephant, discovered in Galander Pampore in 2000.

The visiting scientists will be working with Indian colleagues to reassess the taxonomy and age of the site, and to establish the relationship of associated stone tools with the fossil remains. Initial observations made by the team suggest the find is of global significance.

The association of stone tools with the elephant skeleton suggests that early humans butchered the carcass.

Such records are extremely rare and include the only sites in Africa, Israel and Western Europe. The fossil find is most likely to be considerably older than the previously believed age of 50,000 years. Furthermore, the fossil find does support the migration of large mammals from Africa, where both the ancestors of the Pampore elephant and humans originated.

The team will be here for a week and will reassemble the bones of the fossil elephant, conduct detailed multidisciplinary studies using modern techniques to identify the fossil to species level, collect samples to date the elephant and suggest measures to preserve this unique find.

The visiting research team is excited to be involved in the renewed research on the Pampore elephant and look forward to future collaborations with other departments in the university.

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Jammu Links News