Shivalik mountains have been suggested to be 16 to 5 million years old. Much of present day Himachal Pradesh is situated in these hills. Punjab, Haryana plains sit just below these hills.
This area has many perrenial rivers flowing through these states. Due to this, the area must have been rich in vegetation and plenty of water which had made it an ideal place for many animals to inhabit it.
In fact, a research conducted jointly by India-based Society for Archaeological & Anthropological Research (SAAR) and France’s National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) and department of Prehistory of the National Museum of Natural History has found rich cache of diverse fossils of fauna which is being dated back to 2.6 millions years claiming them to be the oldest fossils shadowing the ones found in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia which are said to be 2.58 million years old.
The excavations were carried out in the Masol village of Mohali which is situated in the foothills of Shivalik.
In fact, more than 2,000 fossils of different herbivores have been found by the team during digging. These include Stegodon, an ancient elephant with tusks up to four metres, and Sivatherium, a giant giraffe.
The study adds that before this find, the oldest sites were in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia dating back to 2.58 million years.The team has also found 14 fossils of Leptobos, pre-historic ancestors of modern-day cows that weighed up to 320 kilogrammes
These rare fossils, excavated between September 2009 and March 2015, were bubble-wrapped and dispatched to a French lab.
The team says that it is a multi disciplinary effort involving specialists from the field of geology, geomorphology, sedementology, physics, palaeontology, taphonomy. The research paper on these fossils has been called “Taphonomical studies of the Plio-Pleistocene Transition Fauna of Masol in Shivalik Frontal Range, Northwestern India”.
Due to the tectonic activity in this region, many fossils buried deeper have moved to shallower depths.
The scientists have already conducted paleo-magnetic dating electron spin resonance (ESR) tests on the fossils to know their age.
The Punjab government is planning to start eco-tourism trail of these villages in Shivalik Hills where fossils of wild camel, horses and bulls dating back to nearly three million years have been found.
Besides the scenic beauty and wild life of the area being major attractions, Siswan Dam site is picnic spot and can be developed further as a tourist destination.
Siswan Dam Location