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SJMercuryNews:biggest and smallest fossil mammals

Huge land mammal fossil found in Pakistan

Posted at 11:44 p.m. PDT Sunday, May 9, 1999 

 KARACHI -- The fossile remains of an enormous rhinoceros-like mammal
have been discovered in Pakistan and the French palaeontologists who
found them believe they're the largest fossil remains of a land mammal
in the world.

 The almost complete remains of the mammal were discovered last month in
the eastern part of Baluchistan province, team leader Jean-Loup Welcomme
told Reuters at the weekend as he passed through Karachi on his way back
to France.

``It is the largest fossil of a land mammal discovered,'' said Welcomme,
a palaeontologist who studies the migrations of mammals at the Museum of
Natural History in Paris and the University of Montpellier in southern

 Welcomme, who has been working in the Dera Bugti hills 500 km (310
miles) north of Karachi off and on for the last five years, said the
remains show an animal that stood about 5- metres high (18 feet) and was
seven metres long.

The name for the mammal is baluchitherium, Welcomme said. It was named
by English palaeontologist C. Forster Cooper, who collected some fossil
remains in the area in 1910.

``We think it weighed about 15 to 20 tonnes and it looks like a
rhinoceros without the horns,'' Welcomme said.

``This family is linked to the family of the rhinoceros, like a cousin
of the ancestor of the rhinoceros,'' he said.

The animal was believed to have lived about 30 million years ago during
the oligocene period.

Welcomme said his colleague Laurant Marivaux from the University of
Montpellier discovered what they think is the smallest fossil remains of
a mammal in the same area.

``It's a new species. We want to study the details,'' he said. ``It's
only one or two millimetres long.''

Welcomme said he believed the baluchitherium originally came from North
America and crossed into Asia using a land mass that bridged the Bering

 He said the remains will be taken back to France to be studied and
preserved once permission is given by the Pakistan government. They will
then be returned to Pakistan for display.

 Dera Bugti is a restricted tribal area and in addition to special
permission from the local tribal chief, Welcomme and his colleagues were
given armed guards.
Flying Goat Graphics
(Society of Vertebrate Paleontology member)