India’s first Geo Park to be set up on the banks of Narmada in Jabalpur district

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New Delhi: Geological Survey of India (GSI) has cleared the proposal for establishment of the country’s first Geo Park at Lamheta village on the banks of river Narmada in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department will implement the setting up of the Park with an initial outlay of about Rs 35 crore.

The GSI has already approved Rs 1.30 crore for preparing its detailed report.

It has been decided to set up the first Geo Park in the country at Lamheta as many Dinosaur fossils have been found in the Narmada valley, more particularly in the Bhedaghat-Lamheta Ghat area.

Significantly, this site is already present in the tentative list of UNESCO’s geo-heritage for the protection of natural heritage.

Representative fossil specimens collected from the Late Cretaceous beds of central India, 1848–1933.

The history of dinosaur collecting in central India (former Central Provinces and
Central India Agency) began in 1828 when W. H. Sleeman discovered isolated sauropod caudal
vertebrae in the Lameta Formation near Jabalpur (reference: The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947). Subsequently, the area became a focal point
for fossil collection, leading to a series of further discoveries that continues today.

A science center will also be built at Bhedaghat, which is known for its white marble rock structure, at a cost of Rs 15.20 crore, the cost of which will be shared by the central and state governments.

Narmada Homo erectus skull, superior view

The central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh is a Geologists’ and palaeoanthropologists’ delight. The State also has so much to offer in terms of prehistoric archeaology. The Fossil Repository Unit, Curatorial Division, Central Headquarters, Geological Survey of India, Kolkata maintains a huge collection of fossils since the inception of GSI more than 150 years ago. These fossils were collected by geologists both from GSI and outside GSI. Some of these fossils are “GSI Types” in status. These are unique specimens representing the single or duplicate samples of the known species. These ‘Types’ become invaluable, particularly when they represent extinct animals and are rare in occurrence throughout the world.

The broken skull specimen of Homo erectus, first and only of its kind in India, discovered by Dr. Arun Sonakia, Ex-Director, Palaeontology Division, Geological Survey of India, Central Region, Nagpur is one of such rare collection. This skull was discovered on 5th December, 1982 in the middle of the Narmada valley in Hathnora, Madhya Pradesh.

The age of the fossil was assessed at 500,000 to 600,000 years and it was that of a Homo erectus that roamed on earth from 1.8 million to 200,000 years ago. The Homo erectus preceded the Homo sapiens.

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