Geological Society of London
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The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947

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posted on 2016-06-21, 12:24 authored by Matthew T. Carrano, Jeffrey A. Wilson, Paul M. Barrett

The history of dinosaur collecting in central India (former Central Provinces and Central India Agency) began in 1828 when W. H. Sleeman discovered isolated sauropod caudal vertebrae in the Lameta Formation near Jabalpur. Subsequently, the area became a focal point for fossil collection, leading to a series of further discoveries that continues today.

The earliest discoveries were made by numerous collectors for whom palaeontology was a secondary pursuit, and who were employed in the armed forces (W. H. Sleeman and W. T. Nicolls), medicine (G. G. Spilsbury) or as geologists (T. Oldham, H. B. Medlicott, T. W. H. Hughes and C. A. Matley). Most of their finds were concentrated around Jabalpur or farther south near Pisdura and often consisted of isolated, surface-collected bones.

Charles Matley undertook the two most extensive collecting efforts, in 1917–1919 and 1932–1933 (Percy Sladen Trust Expedition). As a result he discovered significant deposits of dinosaurs on Bara Simla and Chhota Simla, revisited Pisdura, and mapped the Lameta Formation. Many new dinosaur taxa resulted from Matley's studies, which still represent most of the known Lameta Formation dinosaur fauna. Current scientific understanding places these fossils among the Sauropoda (as titanosaurians) and Theropoda (as abelisaurids and noasaurids). Early reports of armoured ornithischians were erroneous; these materials also pertain to sauropods and theropods.