The Indus Valley Civilization renowned for its urban planning, baked brick houses and elaborate drainage system is yet again in news as a group of archaeologists have dug up four human skeletons dating back to the subcontinent’s oldest civilization.
The remains that have been recently discovered from a cemetery in Haryana are of two adult males, a female and a child, a news report said. Scholars say that the skeletons will help them to shed more light on the life of the Harappan people.
Since 2013, the archaeologist and scientists from India and South Korea were carrying out the excavation at the cemetery at Rakhigarhi village in Haryana’s Hissar district, BBC reported.
The excavation has also unearthed items like pottery with food grains and shell bangles found near the skeletons, which enabled the archaeologists to consider that the settlers had faith in reincarnation.
Scientists from South Korea at the site who are equipped with advanced technology would now attempt to reconstruct the DNA of the skeletons, said archaeologist Ranvir Singh.
The civilization is also known as Harappan civilization due to first of its excavations carried out in the 1920s at a place named Harappa, which is now in Pakistan. It is said that the civilization flourished with a population of over 5 million settlers during its peak. Also, the inhabitants of the civilization are noted for their development of new techniques in handicraft.
Scientists said on Thursday they have unearthed in southern Germany the fossil of a fish that, with its mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, strongly resembled today’s piranhas, the stars of more than their fair share of Hollywood horror films. But this one lived during the Jurassic Period 152 million years ago.
Named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus, it is the earliest known example of a bony fish — as opposed to cartilaginous fish like sharks — able to slice flesh rather than simply swallowing prey, enabling it to attack victims larger than itself as piranhas can.
Piranhamesodon, about 3-1/2 inches (9 cm) long, lived in the sponge and coral reefs of the Solnhofen archipelago, a shallow tropical sea in what is now Bavaria. Piranhas are freshwater fish that inhabit rivers and lakes in South America.
Piranhamesodon was small, but its mouth was worthy of a scary movie. It boasted long, pointed, dagger-like teeth along the outer edge of its upper jaw and at the front of its lower jaw. It also had triangular teeth with serrated cutting edges on the side of its lower jaw.
“We were stunned that this fish had teeth which are capable of slicing flesh. It comes from a group of fishes, the pycnodontids, that are famous for their crushing teeth,” said paleontologist Martina Kölbl-Ebert of the Jura-Museum Eichstätt in Germany, who led the research published in the journal Current Biology.
“It is like finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf,” Kölbl-Ebert added.
The fossil came from the same Bavarian limestone deposits as Archaeopteryx, the earliest-known bird.
“From the same quarry, we also have a number of other fish which may have been the victims of Piranhamesodon. They show injuries to their fins and fin bases, some freshly wounded before they died and got fossilized, whereas others show completely healed injuries with regeneration of the fin,” Kölbl-Ebert said.
While it shares traits with piranhas, Piranhamesodon was neither their long-ago ancestor nor related to them at all. The oldest-known piranhas lived around 15 million years ago.
Piranhamesodon is an example of a phenomenon called convergent evolution in which organisms independently acquire similar characteristics as a result of adapting to similar ecological niches or environments.