Footprints of three dinosaur species have been found in the Thar desert in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.

It is a major discovery since it is evidence of the presence of the giant reptiles in the western part of the State, which formed the seashore to the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic era.

The footprints found stone-like, were made originally in the sediment or silt of the seashore.

They belong to three species of dinosaurs — Eubrontes cf. giganteus, Eubrontes glenrosensis and Grallator tenuis. While the giganteus and glenrosensis species have 35 cm footprints, the footprint of the third species was found to be 5.5 cm.

The distinguishing features of these species are the hollow bones and feet with three digits. All three species, belonging to the early Jurassic period, were carnivorous.

Eubrontes is the name of the footprints, identified by their shape, not of the genus or genera that made them, which remains unknown as of now but is presumed to be similar to Coelophysis or Dilophosaurus. They are estimated to have been 12 to 15 metres long and weighed between 500 kg and 700 kg.

Similarly, Grallator is an ichnogenus that covers a common type of small, three-toed print made by a variety of bipedal theropod dinosaurs. The height of the Grallator is estimated to have been about that of a human, two metres, with a length of up to three metres.

Virendra Singh Parihar, Assistant Professor, Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur, a member of the team of palaeontologists that made the discovery recently, told The Hindu on Friday that the footprints, found near Jaisalmer’s Thaiat village, were 200 million years old.

Geological observations have led scientists to the analysis ancient environments in which the rocks of the footprints, which were once soft sediments, were deposited. The hinterland climate was probably seasonal to semi-arid during the deposition of the footprints according to geochemical analyses and calculation of weathering indices.

Dr Parihar is very hopeful about the possibility of finding more evidence of dinosaurs in the Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, forming part of the mighty Thar desert stretching to both sides of the India-Pakistan border. “It is just the beginning of the findings of dinosaur remains in Rajasthan. More discoveries of dinosaur fossils will be made in the near future,” he said.

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