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Narmada valley is the centre of human evolution—Dr A.R Sankhyan

Y.S.RANA | September 19, 2020 10:54 AM

BILASPUR (HP): Research paper of Dr A.R.Sankhyan, renowned anthropologist of Himachal Pradesh on “Evolutionary perspective on Narmada Hominin Fossils” was published on August 20 last. The paper findings confirm the hypothesis of two lineage of culturally and physically distinct hominins (human ancestors)in the region during Pleistocene times (2.50 lakh to 70, 000 years ago). It sheds light on the theory that once the valley had been inhabited by two-type of human ancestors—a large bodies species and hitherto unknown pygmy-size man.

The studyalso distinguished two major morpho-types which reflect the process of humanization in the Central Narmada valley and possible evolutionary scenario for Sough Asia. Dr Sankhyan said that on date there were 15 hominin fossils on record from Narmada valley discovered from various locations.   

Since 1830 the Central Narmada valley has yielded innumerable Paleolithic artifacts and Pleistocene vertebrate fauna but finding human fossils has always been a frustration to anthropologists. In 1980s a partial huminin cranium was found that brought the valley to limelight for research on human evolution in South Asia. According to Dr Sankhyan, the ‘large-bodied’ species (Acheulian Man) survived until the emergence of the short-stocky man around 1.50 lakh years ago.

Narmada valley yielded India’s first human fossil—a partial skull cap—in 1982. No new human fossil was found until mid-1990s when he then a senior scientist at the Anthropological Survey of India, discovered three human fossils—two collarbones and a rib similar to the clavicle of Andaman Pygmies. His discovery confirms that these belonged to a human ancestor who was ‘short and stocky.

His research paper has now confirmed by two more fossils he indentified from a collection made during intensive explorations in the same area between 2005-10. “ While one category was short and stocky used to hunt small animals with stone and bone tools the other was of large bodied people who hunted big animals with archaic and big weapons of stones, ” revealed the research.

It further states that larger bodied humans evolved first, they were replaced by the short and stocky people and then migrated to other postures including Africa from here. Short people might have even survived the volcanic winter which followed the world’s largest volcanic activity—Toba super-eruption occurred between 69, 000 and 77, 000 years ago at Lake Toba in Sumatra. It is known as one of the earth’s biggest eruption. It plunged the planet into six to ten year volcanic winter, said Dr Sankhyan.

After a detailed morphometic study done by Dr Sankhyan, has made an attempt to sort out human evolution into three categories. These are large-bodied species, short and stocky—lived during Pleistocene times (2.50 lakh to 70, 000 years ago) and the third one of present human evolution some 40, 000 years ago.

Dr Sankhyan lives in Bilaspur of Himachal Pradesh and has written two books and 10 research papers on human evolution.

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