Baluchitherium: The beast of Balochistan

By Fatima Shaheen Niazi 

A few years back, I went on a visit to the Hingol National Park and was left in awe at the beauty Balochistan had to offer. The province is flooded with exquisite hills, blue beaches and adorable wildlife.

The group I was with also spotted some odd rock formations in the region. When we asked the tour guide, he said “The hills are shaped oddly because dinosaurs roamed the land.”
We looked at each other and started laughing. What a silly story to tell! 

It was not until I reached home and googled this fact that I found out about Baluchitherium, the ‘dinosaur’ of Balochistan. And yes, this is not a myth – fossils of a large mammal were actually discovered in Balochistan! 

The bones of what is considered to be one of the largest land mammals, were found in Balochistan by paleontologist Sir Clive Forster Cooper in the 1900’s. He named the mammal, Baluchitherium – the beast of Balochistan.

However, not much research was conducted on the mammal till the French paleontologist Jean-Loup Welcomme, decided to dig in to the roots of the mammal’s existence. In 1997, a finger of the ‘dinosaur’ was discovered near Dera Bugti. 

Photo Courtesy: Pakistan Museum of Natural History

This discovery was enough to grasp the interest of the global scientific community and a team was formed to unearth other remains of the creature that was unheard of. 

After years of digging and researching, numerous fossils were unearthed that revealed Baluchitherium to have roamed Asia 30 millions years ago. Based on the bones discovered, the mammal related to the rhinoceros, was around 18 feet tall and is said to have survived for almost 11 million years before it hit extinction.

The French palaeontologist and his team also discovered fish, sharks, turtles and other mammals in Balochistan. 

Fascinating, isn’t it?

However, it surprises me how many people still don’t know about this discovery. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been educated about it either if I hadn’t travelled to Balochistan. Hence, I often wonder – am I aware of everything great that exists in Pakistan?

The purpose of this article was to bring forth the archeological and geological importance of Balochistan. After all, it’s essential to educate those around us!