Article: A gomphothere (Mammalia, Proboscidea) from the Quaternary of the Kashmir Valley, India
Publication: Papers in Palaeontology
Abstract The Kashmir Valley in northern India preserves a fossiliferous Plio-Pleistocene sedimentary record extending in time almost 5 myr. These fluvio-lacustrine sediments are commonly called the Karewas, and represent an ancient lake system with drainages derived from the Greater Himalayas and Pir Panjal Ranges. Although fossils have been known from this region for more than 150 years, the record is not as rich or taxonomically well resolved as the dense fossil record of the southern Siwalik Group. Here, we report the first specimen of a Quaternary gomphothere, cf. Sinomastodon sp. from the Kashmir Valley, along with new occurrences of Equus cf. sivalensis. This is the youngest gomphothere known from the Indian Subcontinent, representing a group of proboscideans hitherto thought to have gone locally extinct at the end of the Pliocene. Sinomastodon is commonly found in eastern and southeast Asia, and its presence in the Kashmir Valley suggests robust dispersal routes from southeast Asia to the high Himalayas. The presence of this browsing proboscidean in the Pleistocene suggests a unique refugial forested intermontane ecosystem, similar to those found in southern China, different from the savannah ecosystems found in the Siwalik Group south of the mountains.