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Ancient Fossiliferous Rocks in Chitral, Northern Pakistan

Shamsud Din

shams ud din chitral

Ancient fossiliferous rocks, recently discovered in Lot Owir Ann (Pass), Upper Chitral, Northern Pakistan along the route to the Terichmir Basecamp, offer exciting insights into the geological history and paleontological record of the region. These rocks, adorned with imprints of plant and reptile fossils, raise compelling questions about the past presence of marine life in an area now defined by a labyrinthine network of mountainous ranges.

Approximately 75 million years ago, the Indian subcontinent, then a distinct landmass, initiated its northward drift towards the Eurasian plate. The ensuing collision between these tectonic plates reshaped the landscape dramatically. Seabed crusts were thrust upwards, transforming the ancient seabed into the formidable peaks of the Hindukush, Himalayas, and Karakoram Mountain ranges that characterize northern Pakistan today. The fossiliferous rocks, containing imprints of sea animals and plants, serve as tangible evidence of a bygone marine epoch, contributing to the preservation of a paleontological record of an ancient marine ecosystem that once flourished in the region.

Taking a step further back in time, over 77 million years ago, the current expanse of northern Pakistan was submerged beneath an expansive ocean teeming with giant reptiles and ammonites. The fossiliferous rocks in Lot Owir Ann (Pass) now bear witness to this ancient marine environment, containing bones, shells, and sediments embedded in rocks that offer concrete proof of the region's submerged past.

One may ponder the encapsulation of remnants of reptiles and plants in this geographic area, showcasing distinctive characteristics like body scales and reptilian anatomy. The answer lies in the region's submersion underwater around 75 million years ago during the movement and collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which not only reshaped the landscape but also resulted in the folding and uplifting of sedimentary rocks from the seabed. Consequently, these rocks encapsulate the fossilized remains of marine organisms, plants, and reptiles within the geological fabric of the mountain peaks in northern Pakistan.

The discernible patterns in the rocks at Lot Owir Ann (Pass), Upper Chitral, northern Pakistan, include bones, shells, and sediments collectively referred to as fossiliferous rocks. These formations encapsulate a rich diversity of shells and sediments, providing enduring resting places for the remnants of marine organisms.

This geological treasure trove beckons researchers, geologists, and oceanographers alike, offering a unique opportunity to unravel the mysteries of the ancient marine ecosystems that once thrived beneath the waves of what is now a mountainous landscape.

Photos by Rehmat Azia Khan
Parpish, Oweer

A Website on the Culture, History and Languages of Chitral.