Presence of African reptiles in India confirms that these territories once belonged together

Bratislava, 29 June 2023: A reptile, typical for Africa and Madagascar, was found by scientists in India. Relatively little is still known about India's prehistoric past, and Andrej Čerňanský, a palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist from Comenius University Bratislava, is helping to uncover the history of this subcontinent. In collaboration with Indian colleagues, he has currently published a work in the journal Cretaceous Research.

29. 06. 2023 11.28 hod.
By: CU External Relations Office

They named the new reptile Deccansaurus palaeoindicus. This lizard lived at the very end of the dinosaur era in ​​the Deccan Traps created by volcanic activity. This volcanic activity in India, along with the asteroid impact, also had an impact on the extinction at the end of the Mesozoic.

"The find sheds light on which lizards lived in India 66 million years ago. But it is interesting mainly because of what it tells us about India. It most likely represents the Cordyliformes group of lizards, which is found only in Africa and Madagascar," says palaeontologist, Andrej Čerňanský, from the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Today we would not find them anywhere else in the world.

The occurrence of these reptiles in India, which is part of Asia, reveals a geographical conundrum. India has been connected to Asia only for the last 35-40 million years, and the Himalayas were formed when they collided. Originally, this subcontinent was part of the southern continents, the so-called Gondwana.

In the Jurassic period, India was connected to Madagascar and Africa, and the connection with Madagascar continued until 88 million years ago. "66 million years ago, when Deccansaurus lived, India and Madagascar were still relatively close together. And this new reptile from a typically African line points to the geographical location of India and its origin and ancient connection with Africa," adds Andrej Čerňanský.