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Rajasaurus in Hindu temple?



In summer of 2003, Jeff Wilson, Paul Sereno, Suresh Srivastava, and Ashok Sahni led a team that discovered the remains of Rajasaurus narmadensis, a stocky, 30 foot long theropod dinosaur with an unusual horn or crest, in the valley of the Narmada River in northern India. Their expedition was inspired by earlier finds, in 1981, when Srivastava had studied numerous large "balls" found by workers in a limestone quarry. They turned out to be Rajasaurus eggs. Dinosaur skeletons are rare in India, but clutches of the large eggs and the dino bones are abundant in the region.

Some paintings of a deity called Sharabha (or Pakshriaja) in Hindu shrines and temples in the Narmada region have been brought to my attention, as possibly related to pre-scientific discoveries of dinosaur fossils in northern India. Sharabha combines the features of bird, reptile, and large predatory mammal. Temple paintings of this being (made in about 1700) show a composite creature whose skull bears a striking resemblance to the skull of Rajasaurus, with a little pointed horn and similar teeth. There is also a curious red outline around the skull that resembles the beak of protoceratopsid dinosaurs, common in Mongolia.

I am told that fossilized dinosaur bones and large eggs are kept in Sharabha shrines. If so, this suggests that the god's image might be related to dinosaur fossils. The god's hybrid image may have first originated as an imaginary creature. Then when people saw dinosaur remains that seem to combine avian, reptilian, and mammalian features, along with large stone eggs, the mysterious remains were associated with the god.

I'd love to have some feedback from experts on the list. If you'd like to examine the painting of Sharabha and compare it to Rajasaurus, please contact me off list.

Thanks in advance.