Saturday, September 30, 2023


Fossils of Trilobites in Spiti and Zanskar show Equatorial affinities

YS RANA | February 26, 2022 08:03 AM

CHANDIGARH: The 2nd International Webinar on “ Timing the closure of Tethys Sea and evolution and birth of the Himalayas” was successfully conducted by Tethys Fossil Museum and Research Center and supported by on February 22.

Dwelling on the importance of holding this webinar series Dr Ritesh Arya said that there has been lot of research on timing the collision of Indian and Tibetan plate which led to the birth of the Himalayas based on various models proposed by different workers but no consensus has been arrived and there are Himalayan opportunities to do research.

He said the need for forming the Tethys fossil museum was felt to house the fossils collected from Tethyan Himalayas by Dr Ritesh Arya since his graduation days in Center of Advanced Studies in Geology Panjab University Chandigarh in 1987. The Tethys was the sea which was separating India and Tibet before the Himalayas was born. Due to continental drift and plate tectonics the two collided and the Tethyan ocean sediments were uplifted and folded forming the Himalayas.So all the fossils which we are finding in the Himalayas actually represent the life which we find in the Tehyan ocean floor which was separating the two plates. In order to have an overall viewpoint of the various geologists around the world working in Himalayas the organising committee of the Tethys Fossil Museum and Research Center and is hosting a series of lectures by inviting them on 22nd of every month in 2022

First webinar in this context was presented by Prof Peter Molnar who in his talk “The Growth of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau” last month vividly explained how large-scale geodynamic processes cause deformation of the Earth’s crust, including earthquakes and the building of mountain ranges, and also how shifting continents, emergence of islands, growth of mountains, especially how the Himalayas affect climate on geologic time scales

Prof Nigel Hughes from University of California also alumni of Shanti Niketan was the 2nd in the series and gave a thought provoking talk “ Ups and Down in the Himalayas and exploring the evolution of worlds largest mountain chain through fossil” narrating the journey of the Indian subcontinent as an island taking a long voyage as it moved northwards after breaking from Gondwanaland for its Tryst with destiny when colliding with Asia to form the Himalaya based on fossil record of Cambrian rocks and what it tells us about the later history of the region,

He used the fossil in the PreCambrian Cambrian global connection around 540 million year to show the position of India Tibet America and Africa during those times. His love and passion for Bengal and Bangla arose pride in the Indianisation of the entire issue of fossils found in the Indian subcontinent was clearly reflected in his talk. He specially mentioned his outreach program in which he highlights the use of Indian language and promotion of Indian stories by modifying works of Kalidas Meghdoot and using the cloud as a metaphor to see the various fossil finds in the Indian subcontinent as they move over it.

Replying to the question by Dr Ritesh Arya on use of Trilobites discovered from Spiti and Red bed sediments of Photkul monastery in Zanskar and their significance in understanding the paleogeographic and paleolatitudinal position Prof Nigel Hughes said that they probably owe similarity with the ones we see in the warmer equatorial conditions.

Accordingly Dr Ritesh Arya, Guinness World Record holder, concluded that the fossils of Trilobite around 540 million years in age displayed in the Tethys Fossil museum collected from Zanskar and Sipti may have been close to the equator at the time of deposition indicating that paleogeographically they represent coastal and marine regions of the Gondwanaland as fossils of Trilobites from Zanskar and Sipti had great similarity with each other but also with the trilobites of Australia and Antarctica.

Prof Ashok Sahni Prof Emeritus appreciated the efforts of Dr Ritesh Arya in holding the International Webinar with the theme Understanding the birth of Himalaya and congratulated Prof Nigel for his excellent talk and the way he is actually working for outreach program to popularize Indian geology and fossil findings by making animation and story books exploring efforts for place-based geoscience educational outreach.

The session was concluded by Osheen Gupta who thanked the Guest and the delegates from India and abroad for being part of the session and invited them for another interesting talk "The Cenozoic Evolution of the Himalaya-Tibetan Landscape: Stories from Plant Fossils and Isotopes" by Prof Robert Spicer Emeritus Scientist on March 22

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