through Massoud Hussein

AHRABAL: In a new twist of human habitation in Kashmir, a gigantic fossil site has been discovered by two lecturers. Located not far from the famous waterfall, this site may contain answers to some of the most frequently asked questions – when did life appear on the paradise called Kashmir?

A speaker who, with his colleague, discovered the fossil-rich site near Ahrabal showing one of the specimens to the media on August 28, 2021. KL Image: Firdous Parray

“It should be one of the main fossil sites in all of South Asia,” said an officer who visited the scene. “Fossils dot the entire walkway from the outskirts of Ahrabal to Sangam towards Koungwatan. It could be around two square kilometers or more. Then the hill has fossils located above and around it. “Apparently it was part of a major sea at some point in history.”

Although the fossil site has been there for ages, no one has even tried to see the fossils that dot the open-air hike. “It doesn’t even require a single meter of excavation. Everything is open, ”said the officer. The entire site is strewn with tens of thousands of fossil remains of various kinds.

Credit goes to two biology professors, Manzoor Javaid and Dr Rouf Hamza, who began to search for answers to the many fossil deposits and ultimately led to the discovery. This weekend, a number of officials from various fields and media people visited the spot. The two teachers who have created nearly 300 herb gardens at schools in Jammu and Kashmir were on the hunt for herbal remedies when they stumbled upon the treasure.

A team of journalists and some nature lovers visited a recently discovered fossil-rich site near Ahrabal on August 28, 2021. Image KL: Firdous Parray

“We don’t have a specialization in fossil studies, but we were delighted to see the treasure of life scattered around us,” said Manzoor Ahmad. Life in Kashmir. “We took pictures, videos and went back to check with the experts we know and then it was a great discovery.”

Manzoor said the site contained millions of fossil specimens that may be around 400 million years old or even older. This was the time when all of life was devoted to invertebrates – the forms of life whose vertebrae had not evolved at all. “So this is a time that precedes human life,” said Manzoor. “It could be even older than that, but carbon dating will really help assess it all.” The age, he said, was guessed based on the available geological scale.

Manzoor’s colleague Dr Rouf Hamza said more than obvious, the site must hold much more below the surface. “Apparently the fossil samples are from the Ordovician and Devonian period and in between, but only carbon dating can help,” Hamza said. Apparently the organisms must be bryozoans (Fenestella, Fenestrillina, Trepestome, Rhombopore), trilobites, crinoids, brachiopods, corals and other sister species.

This vast site could be the very first site discovered locally. The Guryul fossil site on the outskirts of Khanmoh was the most famous site given that it held the answers to the doomsday mysteries that witnessed the near extinction of living species around 260 million years ago. After generations of vandalization, part of the site is now formally protected.

One of two speakers who discovered the fossil-rich site near Ahrabal showing a specimen to media from Ahrabal (Shopian) on August 28, 2021. KL Image: Firdous Parray

The two teachers behind the larger find said they personally asked forest department officials to install a naka on his doorstep so people don’t turn it into a loot place.

“But the government is going to have to take care of things now,” said one of the two teachers. “He needs a formal investigation and adequate protection 24 hours a day.”

Fossil sites around the world are considered the key to understanding evolution and life systems on earth. These sites are huge tourist spots, unlike Kashmir.

“Museums in northern India are lacking in good fossil collections and this site can now manage several galleries,” said Munir ul Islam, a KAS officer and nature lover. Museums in Jammu and Kashmir are now expected to have vibrant and impressive fossil galleries.

(Parray Firdous contributed to this report)

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