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Representative image

India's Jurassic Park in Gujarat

By Madhuri Shukla (ANI) | Updated: Jul 09, 2019 16:53 IST

Gandhinagar [Gujarat], July 09 (ANI): We live in an age where most elderly don't have a clue what a dinosaur is, the rest really don't really care if they ever existed. On the other hand, the middle-aged know somewhat about it through Hollywood movies and the young enjoy watching dinosaur cartoons and are familiar with T-Rex and Brontosaurus as fun fossils.
Dinosaurs, the largest animals to walk on earth are not just a subject of blockbuster films but have actual proof of their existence in our very own country. Yes, our very own state of Gujarat has been home to a rich treasure of fossilized remains of dinosaurs for several years now. The Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park in the capital city of Gandhinagar is the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs in the world.
First appearing approximately 230 million years ago, these vertebrates conquered our planet for more than 160 million years before experiencing a catastrophic extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.
There are several types of dinosaurs ranging from small bird-like creatures to the largest animals ever to walk on Earth. The first dinosaur was recognized in the 19th century and ever since dinosaurs have been the source of many questions. What led to their rapid extinction? What do the latest fossil findings reveal about them and their way of life? How is the modern bird connected to these prehistoric creatures?
The Forest Department of Gujarat started its plantation and renovation work in 1970. Also known as India's Jurassic Park, it is spread in an area of 428 hectares and contains a number of sections like the Dinosaur section, fossil section etc. From life-sized dinosaur status to fossilised eggs that range from the size of duck eggs to cannon balls, palaeontologists suggest that the eggs are more than 65 million years old. It is believed that the area in and around the park could have been the dwelling place of these gigantic creatures analyzed by Madhuri Shukla.
Approximately 100 km away from Gandhinagar, we find a place that displays a rustic charm in its air and culture. Situated in Kheda district is Balasinor, a former princely state of the Yusufzai dynasty, that was formed on 28th September 1758. In addition to the magic of culture and traditions, the village of Rayoli in Balasinor could have been one of the shooting destinations for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. Palaeontologists accidentally came across the fossil remains of bones and eggs in the 1980s.
Since then, the place has been flooded with researchers and a number of excavations have taken place in the area the findings of which revealed the fact that there were more than 13 species of dinosaurs that thrived around 65 million years ago. The fossil park here contains life-sized statues of those giant creatures and further excavations have found that a squat, thick-legged, heavy-bodied carnivorous dinosaur with a crested horn, Rajasaurus Narmandensis, King of Narmada, (the first half of the name comes from Raja or King due to the crested horn and the second half of the name originates due to its geographical location which was near the river Narmada). This creature belonged to the carnivore family of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Another interesting display is that of the fossilised snake that fed on dinosaur eggs. A skeleton of a 3.5 m fossilised snake is believed to have fed on the eggs of Sauropods. It is probably the first evidence of feeding behaviour in a fossilised primitive snake find out by Madhuri Shukla.
A visit to the fossil park will surely make you dig deep into the history of dinosaurs in Gujarat. And in order to quench your thirst for the same, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited is coming up with an Informatics Centre at Balasinor which is equipped with a Time Machine, 5-D theatre, 3-D film, a vivid display of Mesozoic times, souvenir shop etc. A giant sculpture of the Rajasaurus Narmandensis will be on display in addition to a display depicting the evolution of Earth. The museum will depict as many as 40 sculptures that will throw on a light on their size, shape, habits and habitat, etc. These patterns have been prepared after the careful study was done by palaeontologists over the years.
A Fossil Park Development Society has been established in order to maintain this ultra-modern museum. The museum is spread in an area of over 25,000 sq. feet with 10 galleries spread in the basement and the ground floor depicting various forms of displays (films and exhibitions). An exclusive 3-D film is prepared on Rajasaurus Narmadensis. Other galleries display details on Dinosaurs of India and Gujarat, Fossil Exhibits and many other features that will bring out the child in you. One can relish this museum through digital, print and static form. The state government has not only catered to those seeking information on dinosaurs and their fossils, but also to kids by creating a Dino Fun for Kids area which will be interactive and amusing. The atrium features an exact replica of the habitat of these creatures. A step in the atrium will transport you 65 million years back.
The western world has paid much attention to these impressive creatures where schools take children on regular visits to nearby natural history museums where dinosaurs occupy keyspace. There is also a lot of media coverage on facts about dinosaurs.
It is a shame that our education system pays no attention to the rich history of our country being home to these majestic fossils. More focus on tourism and media coverage is the need of the hour to engage the interest of more Indians on these mighty fossils. Hopefully, the initiatives by the state government will bring a positive change.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author) (ANI)