Scientists have discovered the fossil of the world’s oldest animal in India. Dickinsonia, one of the rarest fossils in the world, has been discovered in Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. The fossils were discovered in rock shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, about 40 km from Bhopal.
Dickinsonia is an extinct genus of a basal animal that lived during the late Ediacaran period. The fossils are known only in the form of imprints and casts in sandstone beds.
Ediacaran Period is a geological period that spans 94 million years from the end of the Cryogenian Period 635 million years ago to the beginning of the Cambrian Period 541 million years ago. For comparison, Dinosaurs had appeared around 243 million years ago and they went extinct 65 million years ago.
According to the researchers, Dickinsonia, whose remains are found on the roof of the ‘Auditorium Cave’ at Bhimbetka, dates back 570 million years.
The remains of Dickinsonia fossils that are discovered in other parts of the world exceeded 4 feet in length. However, the one found in Bhimbetka is 17 inches long. The fossil was hidden in plain sight and was discovered by chance when two experts from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) were investigating the ancient art at Bhimbetka ahead of the 36th International Geological Congress.
The experts found a the leaf-like impression 11-feet above the ground, which blended with the rock. The experts detected the carving, which could have been easily mistaken for pre-historic rock art.
The discovery has now been published in the February edition of an international journal Gondwana Research.
“The fossils were found in the roof of Auditorium Cave at Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, a UNESCO World Heritage site for Paleolithic and Mesolithic cave art, near Bhopal. They are identical with Dickinsonia tenuis from the Ediacaran Member of the Rawnsley Quartzite in South Australia,” read an abstract from the research paper.
The experts were able to trace imprints of the fossil, which are preserved as negative impressions based on sandstone beds. The fossil was first discovered in the Ediacaran Member of Rawnsley Quartzite, Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
The Bhimbetka rock-cut architectures were first discovered by VS Wakankar 64 years ago. These rock shelters are in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains. The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site of the Paleolithic Age, and the entire region comprises more than 600 caves.