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1.1 million-year-old stegodon tusk found in Pakistan

The stegodon is a distant relative of the modern elephant.
By Brooks Hays   |   Feb. 16, 2016 at 9:19 PM

KHARIAN, Pakistan, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A team of paleontologists from Punjab University have unearthed a 1.1 million-year-old stegodon tusk.

The tusk stretches 8-feet in length and measures 8-inches around, making it the largest tusk of an elephant family species ever found in Pakistan.

The size of the tusk suggests it belonged to a mature specimen. The elephants grew upwards of 13 feet tall and weighed nearly 13 tons.

Stegodonts are distant relatives of modern elephants. The fossil record suggests their presence on Earth as early as 11 million years ago and as late as the late Pleistocene, marked by the last Ice Age just 11,700 years ago.

The tusk was unearthed in the Gujrat district of the Punjab province of Pakistan, near the city of Kharian. Aging estimates were made using a uranium-lead radioactive dating technique.

"The research scholars of [the] zoology department have long been working at Pabbi of Rajo, Kharian and Sahawa and discovered a number of ancient fossils," Muhammad Akthar, a zoology professor at the university, told Dawn.

Researchers have previously excavated bovid skulls and teeth from the Punjabi dig site. They were determined to belong to the subfamily Reduncinae, which includes eight species of antelope.

Scientists say the fossils will be helpful in understanding the ancient biodiversity of Pakistan's Sivalik Hills, an outer range of the Himalayas.

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