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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 03:17 GMT 04:17 UK
Elephant fossil found in Kashmir
Indian geologists digging up an elephant fossil in Kashmir
It took four days to unearth the fossil
Indian geologists say they have unearthed the 50,000-year-old fossil of an elephant in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The fossil was discovered in a field of saffron at Gallander, east of Srinagar, the state's summer capital, by geology students who immediately called in experts.


Rocks above this... have been carbon-dated approximately 50,000 years back

Geologist Abdul Majid Dar
The geologists say this indicates that Kashmir, situated on the edge of the Himalayas, had a warm climate several thousand years ago.

The find consists of a skull measuring 5ft by 4ft (1.5m by 1.2m) with complete lower and upper jaws, a broken tusk measuring and a vertebra.

Largest claim

A teacher in Kashmir University's Geology and Geophysics Department, G M Bhat, said: "Not only in Kashmir... it must be the largest ever known in the world."

Indian elephant
Elephants may have roamed Kashmir's mountain foothills
Explaining the estimates of its age, local geologist Abdul Majid Dar said "the basis of our claim are rocks above this (fossil) which have been carbon-dated approximately 50,000 years back".

He said that a search for other parts of the fossil was underway.

Similar fossils have been discovered in India's central Gangetic plain and the southern Narmada Valley, but this is the first in Kashmir, the geologists say.

They hope it will throw new light on changes in widlife and climate in the valley.

One expert said that, on the face of it, the find indicated that Kashmir's climate 50,000 years ago was sub-tropical.

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