Episodes 2020; 43(1): 489-497
Published online March 1, 2020
Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.
Sunil Bajpai1 and Vivesh V. Kapur2
1*Department of Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee 247667, India
2 Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow 226007, India
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In recent years, explosion of research in the early Tertiary mammals of India has attracted widespread interest because of the importance of this fauna in understanding biogeographic origins, early evolution, and dispersal patterns of several modern mammal orders as well for its paleogeographic implications. Although Paleocene mammals are yet to be discovered in the Indian subcontinent, Indian Early Eocene mammal faunas are now becoming increasingly important in debates concerning the origins of several modern terrestrial orders. In many cases, Eocene mammals from India represent primitive and stratigraphically oldest records in the entire Cenozoic of South Asia, and also gain significance because they closely coincide in age with the withdrawal of the Neotethys, initiation of India-Asia collision and the intense warming intervals during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) and the Early Eocene. The Eocene fossil record from India also provides compelling evidence in support of an Indian origin (Out-of-India hypothesis) for some of the major orders of modern marine and terrestrial mammals, particularly Cetacea and Perissodactyla, whose antiquity can now be traced to the Indian taxa. In addition, several key taxa discovered in India provide significant insights into the early diversification of primates, artiodactyls, and sirenians.