Gujarat's natural heritage is all set to make international news again. Raiyoli, the dinosaur fossil site near Balasinore, has been selected by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) as one of the two Indian sites it will propose for inclusion in UNESCO's list of geologically important zones.
Raiyoli will be entered under the World Heritage List of ‘natural sites’ that possess outstanding universal value.
Around 65 million years ago, Raiyoli was one of the world’s three biggest nesting sites. It was also a part of the world’s largest nesting zones in central India for dinosaurs. Hundreds of dinosaur eggs and thousands of fossils have been unearthed here in the recent past. In fact, the site is also believed to be one of the last habitats of dinosaurs before they became extinct.
The world’s youngest dinosaur egg is believed to have been found in this site. Of the 10,000 dinosaur eggs excavated from India, more than 2,000 have been found from Gujarat. Highly placed sources in the GSI said the site is ideal for a geopark. The sources said that they have recommended that the government send an appropriate proposal to UNESCO.
Officials in the Gujarat tourism department confirmed that a team of senior paleontologists visited the site recently, and the tourism department is busy preparing a proposal for UNESCO.
“We have been asked to work on this project on a priority basis. There are all chances of receiving the sanction,” a tourism official said. The formal announcement is expected to come early next year.
The other site proposed by the GSI is Saketi Fossil Park in Sirmur district, Himachal Pradesh. It is famous for the millions-of-years-old mammalian fossils. Besides securing global recognition and focused conservation for the site, funding is also expected to pour in for advanced systematic research, international tie-ups and tourism development.
Raiyoli is considered to be a part of the Shiva Crater caused millions of years ago by a meteor. Meteorites or volcanoes are believed to have destroyed the site. However, despite all natural disasters, experts said that the eggs have been very well preserved by nature.