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20 million-year-old fossil sea cow discovered in Palawan

A 20 milion year old fossil of a “serenia” or sea cow that existed only during the Miocene age was discovered by scientists and researchers embedded over the walls of Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in Puerto Princesa City, the capital of the last frontier in the country. 

Palawan Underground River [Credit: PIA]
The fosssilized remains of the sea cow remains in perfect condition, a group of scientists and researchers who explored the PPUR extensively recently revealed in its report Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City. 

This discovery persuaded scientists to conduct extensive study at the site since more things could be unearthed dating back to the Miocene age. 

The serenia’s existence has been largely documented in Europe, Mediterranean and Africa. This means that the fossilized remains of the sea cow at the walls of the underground river may be a rarity in the Philippines. 

A fossil of the 20 million year old Sirenia, commonly know today as the Sea cow or Dugong, of the Miocene period is plastered on a limestone wall of the famous Underground River of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan [Credit: KJRosales]
The Manila Times was among the members of the Philippine Network of Environment Journalists (PNEJ) that was able to explore and take pictures of the amazing fossilized remains of sea cow embedded in the walls of the 8.2-kilometer navigable underground river. 

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park features gigantic stone formations, fortresses of an ancient civilization, major formations of stalactites, stalagmites and several large chambers. The lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. 

The underground river is reputed to be the world’s longest wherein at the mouth of the cave, a clear lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge. Monkeys, large monitor lizards, and squirrels find their niche on the beach near the cave. 

The fossil is recently discovered by Italian scientists during an exploration within the uncharted areas of the subterranean river, considered of major scientific significance and raising the international profile of the river, which is a Finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature [Credit: betterphils]
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has topped the latest ranking of the nominees vying to become part of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. As of September 29, the Puerto Princesa treasure climbed to second top spot from fifth place, according to the website of the New 7 Wonders of Nature Campaign. 

According to Puerto Princesa City Tourism Officer Rebecca Labit, the inclusion of the Underground River in the nomination will have a “ripple effect” in the country’s economy and tourism industry. 

Source: The Manila Times [October 03, 2011]

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