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India was home to Ostriches about 25,000 years ago: study
A recently published study has found out that Ostrich inhabited India about 25,000 years ago.

Though the flightless bird is native to Africa, several geologists and archaeologists have over the time found ostrich egg shell pieces in India as well. In India, the shells have been mostly found in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) studied the DNA of some partly fossilised ostrich egg shells and found genetic differences between the Indian ostrich shells and their African counterparts.

"We have successfully analysed the ostrich egg shells in our 'ancient DNA' facility and established that the egg shells (found in India) are genetically similar to the African ostrich," CCMB's senior principal scientist Kumarasamy Thangaraj said.

"The carbon dating (of the ostrich egg shells) to determine the age shows that they are at least 25,000 years old," Thangaraj said.

The study was conducted jointly by the scientists of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, CCMB, and others and the results of the study have been published in the March 9, 2017 issue of science journal PLOS ONE.

Scientists agree on the fact that the origin and evolution of ostrich was due to the continental drifting of Gondwanaland – the super-continent comprising South America, Arabia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, India and Madagascar of the present times around 150 million years ago.

The continental drifting led to ostriches in Africa moving to Eurasia via land route. As per researchers, this was around 20 million years ago. The study also said that till now, the continental drift theory for the existence of ostriches in India had not been proven scientifically.

Ostrich egg shell pieces have also been found in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh earlier as well. But no detailed studies had been conducted on them.

The researchers analysed the mitochondrial DNA to arrive at the conclusion about the existence of ostriches in India.

"Phylogenetic (relating to the evolutionary development and diversification of a species or group of organisms, or of a particular feature of an organism) analysis of the DNA sequence revealed a 92 per cent identity of the fossil egg shells to the African ostrich species – Struthio camelus," the release said.

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