One of the biggest provinces of the country in terms of area which also remains one of the least populated, Baluchistan has long been known to be the home of rare and precious minerals.
Few among us, however, would know that the region which is now predominantly comprises of barren and rugged territory was once a lush green rainforest much on the likes of The Amazon of Brazil.
And not just the amazing tropical heaven was a thick rain forest, it was also the home of one of the largest land mammals, The Baluchitherium or the “Beast of Baluchistan”.
Baluchitherium was first discovered by world- renowned English paleontologist Sir Clive Forster Cooper in 1910 and was the ever first discovery of such a big mammal after the extinction of Dinosaurs. Treading along the coastal paths of the Baluchistan, Cooper ventured deeper into the territory, and stumbled on the massive fossils of what appeared to him as a giant dinosaur. He named the fossil as Baluchitherium or the “Beast of Baluchistan”.
With the collapse of the British Empire in the subcontinent, Cooper was not able to continue his search for further remnants and the Baluchitherium went into oblivion for almost a century until the excavation was started afresh by French Paleontologist Jean-Loup Welcomme.
The massive creature stood at a height of 5 meters and weighed around 20 to 30 tons, easily the size of three big elephants. The Baluchitherium existed and roamed the Baluchistan region some 30 million years ago and it disappeared after 14.7 million years of existence. Its disappearance-like all heavy creatures of the past, is still a mystery.
The Geological change which occurred some 55 million years ago, when the free-floating Indian continent collided with the Asian continent, gave rise to the Great Himalayan range. This geological change created massive shift in the seasonal variations, turning Baluchistan and adjoining region into rainforests receiving heavy sub-tropical rains.
Welcomme, who decided to follow the footsteps of Cooper, quickly realized that the area in consideration is none other than Dera Bugti in Baluchistan and went over to ask permission from Nawab Akbar Bugti to search for the giant pachyderm. Bugti extended approval after some deliberation and conditions.
Welcomme soon stumbled over clues and the early excavation led to one of the richest Paleontological findings in the history.
The team discovered uncountable fossils in a mere 200 square meter area, which could be considered the best exposed bone-beds on Earth. They found many remains of male and female Baluchitherium simply lying on the ground, which was a quite rare event in paleontological findings. Perhaps the massive creatures were swept away by a river and had accumulated on the banks.
Scientists also found traces of crocodile’s teeth on bones which suggested that the Baluchitherium was also a common prey of crocodiles.
By the year 2003, the French team has gathered some of the rare findings of Baluchitherium and stored them in safe place in Nawab Bugti’s compound. This compound was raided and heavily bombed during Pakistan Military’s search operation for Bugti, the then absconder, withering the last traces of Baluchitherium that ever existed.