India

Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, plant fossils, Charles Darwin on stamps, postmarks and postal stationeries of India

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Contents:
India officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world.
Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the south-west, and the Bay of Bengal on the south-east, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; in addition, India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia..
Gradually annexed by and brought under the administration of the British East India Company from the early 18th century and administered directly by the United Kingdom after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi. [R1]

The first pictorial stamps of India appeared in 1931. The set of six, showing the fortress of Purana Qila, Delhi and government edifices, was issued to mark the government's move from Calcutta to New Delhi.
In honor of the centenary of the Indian Geological Survey, India issued on the 13th of January, 1951 a stamp showing two individuals of Stegodon ganesa, the first reconstruction of a prehistoric animal on a stamp.
It was valued 2 Anas. Ana is the olden Indian coin was in use before 1956. In 1956 Indian Government introduced Paise the hundredth fraction of Rupee the currency. 16 Anas are equal to One Rupee. [R2]



Official stamps of India related to Paleontology: prehistoric animals, plant and animal fossils, Charles Darwin

13.01.1951 "100th anniversary of Geological Survey of India" [1] 18.05.1983 "Charles Darwin" [2] 11.09.1997 "Birbal Sahni institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow" [3]
Prehistoric animals on stamps of India 1951 Charles Darwin on stamp of India 1983 Plant fossils on stamps of India 1997

Notes:
Prehistoric animals, Stegodons, on stamp and FDC of India 1951
FDC with stamp for the Centenary of Geological Survey of India cancelled with a large postmark in honor of the Survey at Calcutta. MiNr.: 218, Scott: 232
[1] To commemorate the Indian Geological Survey centenary on 13th January 1951, India Post released a stamp showing two prehistoric “elephants” (Stegodon ganesa), the first ever reconstruction of a prehistoric animal on a stamp.
All FDC available on the market produced by stamp dealers, mostly cancelled with regular, date postmark of various cities across India. FDC with large postmark of Geological Society of India from Calcutta is very rare.

Stegodons were primarily an Asiatic group of Mammutidae. This family is believed to have evolved sometime by the middle Miocene, nearly 15 million years ago, and became extinct by the late Pleistocene about 30,000–40,000 years ago. Stegodons appear to be transitional between true mastodons on the one hand and true elephants on the other.


[2] FDC cancelled by similar postmarks in various cities across India.

[3] There are at least two special covers and cancellations related to Birbal Sahni institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow issued by Indian Post in other years.
It changed name at some point – it is now the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences.



Other stamps to consider: contributor to Paleontology

23.10.1984 "Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia" [A1]
Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia on stamps of India 1984

Notes:
[A1] Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia (1883 – 1969) was a pioneering geologist in India and among the first Indian scientists to work in the Geological Survey of India. He is remembered for his work on the stratigraphy of the Himalayas. He helped establish geological studies and investigations in India, specifically at the Institute of Himalayan Geology, which was renamed in 1976 after him as the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.
In 1925 he discovered tusks and fragments of the extinct elephant-like animal already described as Stegodon ganesa, depicted on stamp in 1951. [R3]


Special commemorative covers related to Paleontology

21.02.1981 "Lucknow Festival 81" [C1] 15.11.2006 "Diamond Jubilee of Birbal Sahni institute of Palaeobotany" [C2] 18.12.2009 "Stamp Mania 2009"
Famous Indian paleobotanic Birbal Sahni on commemorative cover of India 1981 Diamond Jubilee of Birbal Sahni institute of Palaeobotany on commemorative cover of India 2006 Dinosaur and its eggs from Balasinor Dinosaur Fossil park on commemorative cover of India 2009
18.09.2015 "Salkhan Fossil Park" 29.07.2020 "Biodiversity in Shivalik Hills of Saharanpur" [C3]
Sonbhadra Fossils Park on commemorative cover of India 2015 Stegodon fossil on cachet of  Biodiversity in Shivalik Hills of Saharanpur commemorative cover of India 2020

Notes:
[C1] In 1997 Post of India issued a set of 4 stamps dedicated to thw Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany. Two fossils and two reconstructions of prehistoric plants are shown there.

Logo of The Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences Professor Birbal Sahni as depicted on a cachet of commemorative cover of India in 1981
Logo of The Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences Professor Birbal Sahni as depicted on a cachet of commemorative cover of India in 2006
[C2] The Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP) was established in the year 1946, under the name, Institute of Palaeobotany, a progression of the Palaeobotanical society formed by a group of botanists led by the renowned Indian botanist, Professor Birbal Sahni, who became its first Director.

Birbal Sahni (1891 – 1949) was an Indian paleobotanist who studied the fossils of the Indian subcontinent.
His major contributions were in the study of the fossil plants of India and in plant evolution.
In 1921 he was appointed the first Professor and Head of the Botany Department of the Lucknow University, a position he retained until his death.
Based on the ecology of plants and the altitude of the fossil finds, he attempted to estimate rates of uplift of the Himalayas.

The initial office of the Institute was at the Department of Botany, Lucknow University. Later on it moved to its own building in Lucknow.
The goal of BSIP is the visualizing its potential in solving issues of origin and evolution of plant life, other geological issues including exploration of fossil fuels. Originally plant fossil and related studies based, the mandate of the BSIP was recently expanded to combine it with other areas of palaeosciences, and creating modern facilities to achieve this end. [R4]
Some fossils and reconstruction of prehistoric plant from collection of the Institute are shown on stamps in 1997.

[C3] Fossil of tooth of Stegodon, embedded in a piece of rock, can be seen on one of the images of the cachet on "Biodiversity in Shivalik Hills of Saharanpur" commemorative cover.
The Shivaliks Hills, lying at the southern foot hill of the Himalayas, is known for its rich fauna and flora.
The Shivalik Hills are a recent range of hills that run parallel to the Himalayas, south of the much larger mountains. They host a distinctive ecosystem in a landscape of Hills, Piedmont Plains, Fluvial plains and Valleys.
The Shivalik Hills were first surveyed by Captain Proby Cautley of the East India Company in the 1840s-1850s during the construction of the Ganga Canal in the Doab region and was involved in Dr. Hugh Falconer's fossil expeditions.
The Shiwalik Hills are made up of Tertiary deposits of the Outer Himalayas and are among the richest fossil sites for large animals in Asia, with fossils that date to the Miocene in age (up to 24 million years old).

At the end of June 2020, several Indian newspapers reported about fossils of Stegodon discovered in the Shivalik Range of Saharanpur.
Tooth of Stegodon on a cachet of commemorative cover of India in 2020 Tooth of Stegodon discovered in Shivalik Range of Saharanpur
Tooth of Stegodon in a piece of rock on a cachet of commemorative cover of India in 2020 The tooth of Stegodon. Image credit: India Times.

A joint team of forest officials and wildlife organisation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), led by chief conservator of Saharanpur division VK Jain, was busy doing a trap camera survey for the counting of animals in the region.
Lying in a shallow water stream just 50km north of Saharanpur city in Badshahu Bagh was an unusual long stone that caught the team's attention. Upon the closer look, they agreed it was a fossil.

The fossil was shown to scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology Institute, Dehradun: Dr RK Sehgal and Dr AC Nanda.
Both scientists have been recognized for their past work on Elephants from the Shivalik Group.
The scientists compared this fossil specimen with the fossil specimens of Stegodon displayed in the Museum of the Institute and hence they concluded that the fossil was from a Stegodon.
This fossil is a moderately well-preserved third lower molar with none well-developed ridges on its upper surface and very thick enamel.
The overall length of the tooth is about 24 centimetres.
The sandstone that is embedded in the fossil is medium grained, pepper, and salt in nature. This form of lithology is the characteristic of Middle Shivalik.
The fossil was dated between 5 to 8 million years old, by magnetostratigraphic technique. This technique relies on the ability of sedimentary rocks to acquire remnant magnetization.
The presence of the Stegodon shows the existence of dense forest during that time. [R5]

Note: The Indian stamp with two individuals of Stegodons was issued in 1951, "100th anniversary of Geological Survey of India", is the first stamp to show reconstructions of prehistoric animals.



Commemorative postmarks related to Paleontology: dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, fossils

Legend is here
21.02.1981 "Lucknow Festival 81" [C1] 18.05.1983 "Charles Darwin"
Fossil of prehistoric plant on commemorative postmark of India 1981 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983
18.05.1983 "Charles Darwin"
Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983
18.05.1983 "Charles Darwin"
Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983
18.05.1983 "Charles Darwin" 15.11.2006 "Diamond Jubilee of Birbal Sahni institute of Palaeobotany " [C1]
Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Charles Darwin commemorative postmark of India 1983 Fossil of prehistoric plant on commemorative postmark of India 2006
18.12.2009 "Stamp Mania 2009" 18.09.2015 "Salkhan Fossil Park "
Dinosaur egg on commemorative postmark of India 2009 Fossils from Sonbhadra Fossils Park on commemorative postmark of India 2015



References:



Acknowledgement:
Dr. Peter Voice from Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University, for the draft page review and his valuable comments.


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