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Scientists discover new genus of treeshrew from Ramnagar in J&K

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  • Published
    4th Jul, 2022


Scientists have spotted fossils of a small mammal resembling squirrels called treeshrew belonging to a new genus and species from Ramnagar in Jammu and Kashmir. 

What are Tree Shrews?

    • Tree Shrews are very rare elements of the fossil record, with only a few species known throughout the entire Cenozoic era.
  • This treeshrew currently represents the oldest record of fossil tupaiids in the Siwaliks, extending their time range by 2.5–4.0 Million Years in the region. 
  • The treeshrew can help provide a more precise age estimate for the Ramnagar locality lying in the Udhampur District, Jammu & Kashmir. 

Key-highlights of the discovery

  • The scientists found fossils of the new genus and species of treeshrew (known as Sivatupaia ramnagarensis n. gen. n. sp) from the middle Miocene (extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago) site of Ramnagar in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The fossil record of treeshrews, hedgehogs, and other micromammals from the lower Siwaliks of India is sparse. 
  • The study reports on a new genus and species of fossil treeshrew, specimens of the hedgehog Galerix, and other micromammals from the middle Miocene (Lower Siwalik) deposits surrounding Ramnagar at a fossil locality known as Dehari. 
  • The occurrence of Galerix has only been recently documented from the Indian Siwaliks. 
  • The Dehari specimens help establish the likely presence of a relatively large Siwalik Galerix species in the Ramnagar region. 
  • Further, new specimens of the rodents Kanisamys indicus, Sayimys sivalensis, and Murinae indet. from Dehari will help confirm that age estimates for the Ramnagar region are equivalent to the Chinji Formation in Pakistan, most likely corresponding to the middle to upper part of the Chinji Formation.

Significance of the discovery

  • The murine rodents are highly important because different species and dental features are well-known to be time-sensitive, as has been documented throughout a continuous, time-controlled Siwalik sequence on the Potwar Plateau of Pakistan.
  • Therefore, the identification of these time-sensitive dental features and species in the current collection help to provide a more precise age estimate for this Ramnagar locality as between 12.7-11.6 Million Years.

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