MP begins the process of developing its second National Fossil Park

The Madhya Pradesh government has started the process of developing a second national fossil park in Dhangaon state, Mandla district, officials familiar with the matter have said. The move comes more than a decade after a fruit palm fossil found in Madagascar (Indian Ocean) was among the fossils discovered at Mandla.

Residents, geologists, paleobotanists and conservationists have urged the government to protect the 40-65 million year old fossils of 15 genera from 10 plant families that have been discovered.

A team from the Mandla district administration, state forest department and paleobotanists inspected the area last month.

Mandla collector Harshika Singh said the team confirmed that plants like Hyphaenocarpon (palm tree) with fruits were not found in India before the state government approved a proposal to develop the park fossil in Dhangaon. Singh added that the fossils found at Dhangaon are older than those found at Ghughwa National Fossil Park in Dindori district.

DK Kapgate, a retired professor who studies plant fossils in Madhya Pradesh, said India was part of a supercontinent called Gondwanaland which included South America, Africa, Madagascar, Antarctica and Australia about 180 million years ago. “The tectonic plates started moving, then the land shattering started. The Indian plate broke away from that of Madagascar about 60 to 50 million years ago and collided with that of Eurasia. Plant fossils belonging to this period were first discovered in Ghughwa in the late 1970s and now they have been found in Dhangaon.

Kapgate said Dhangaon must be developed separately because experts have not only found stems, leaves and roots but also intact fruits with the palm, which is something new.

Bandana Samant, a geology professor at Nagpur University who conducted a study in Dhangaon, said the area has amazing preservation of vegetation that is even older than 60-64 million years. “These trees are mainly found near the sea on the east coast of South Africa, Madagascar and Australia. After separating from Gondwanaland, the Indian subcontinent shifted from the southern equator to its present position, north of the equator.The discovery of these fossil plants is a very important geological event on the Indian subcontinent because it is a window to study the weather patterns and vegetation that existed more than 1000 years ago. 60 million years.

Samant said most of the Ghughwa fossils were collected from different sites. “But in Dhangaon, we found all the fossil forest and sediments from that time. The state government should have taken the decision to develop a fossil park many years ago, because the fossils of trunks, seeds , fruits and leaves are treasures for India.”

Prashant Srivastava, a teacher from Mandla who is interested in paleobotany, said he discovered many plant fossils on a hill in Dhangaon in 2006. “I took pictures and studied them. I shared the photos with experts and they told me these are Hyphaenocarpon fossils [palm] from Madagascar, Garcinia, Sterculia [chest nuts]Sonneratia, Madagascar Polyalthia, Heynea [Mahagony]Drypetes, Artocarpus communis [bread fruit]Eucalyptus and others.

Srivastava said that Madhya Pradesh is rich in plant fossils and yet the forest department gives them a lot of attention.

Chief Conservator of Forests (Jabalpur Division) Ram Das Mahala said they first checked the fossil claims with the help of experts. “Now, since we are sure of the presence of fossils there, we have started the process of developing the area as a fossil park.”

Mahala said the park will be developed in two phases. “In the first phase, we are focusing on protecting about 35 hectares of land with a ban on the movement of residents in the area… the fence would be done. In the next phase, the Eco-Tourism Board will invite a team of experts to identify each fossil to preserve it. The documentation will be done properly so that we can set up a museum later.

Ghughwa National Fossil Park was developed earlier in 1983. Dhangaon is located about 100 km.

Ghughwa has rare leaf and tree fossils that existed between 40 and 150 million years ago when India was part of Gondwanaland.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    She is a senior journalist based in Bhopal. It covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, women’s and child development issues, sports and business and industries.
    …See the details