In Madhya Pradesh, Indian scientists have discovered the fossilised remains of a large prehistoric reptile known as a phytosaur, a species from the family of the earliest progenitors of contemporary crocodiles but previously unknown to science.
About 200 kilometres east of Khajuraho, the scientists discovered a collection of bone pieces imbedded in mudstone layers dating between 231 million and 212 million years old. When assembled, it came out to be the skeletal remains of an eight-meter long phytosaur.
German palaeontologist George Friedrich Jaeger reported the first of it’s kind back in 1928 and since then scientist have catalogued many such fossils of the species across North America, Europe, China, and Morocco. Sankar Chatterjee, a palaeontologist from India, also reported a phytosaur from Telengana in 1978.
IIT Kharagpur has provided the scientists with the platform to research and they have also published the findings of the research in the journal ‘Papers on Palaentology’. A palaeontologist from the institution Sanghamitra Ray and research scholar Debajit Dutta have found some distinctive anatomical features that according to them were indigenous to Indian subcontinent.
“An indigenous phytosaur would be something akin to the Asiatic lion, which is unique to India,” Datta said.
The scientists have named the phytosaur Colossosuchus techniensis, the first word refers to its massive size, and the second word honours IIT Kharagpur.