Fossilized mollusks, one of the rare animal groups in the world, have been discovered in Masungi Georeserve, and they ar likely to be the “first and oldest” of its kind in the Philippines.
Geologists and paleontologists from the University of the Philippines - National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) made the discovery in Masungi Georeserve’s limestones, which the team said is estimated to be around 60 million years ago.
According to Masungi Georeserve, gastropods are a class of mollusks that include snails, slugs, and limpets. They are recognized as one of the rare animal groups that have thrived across all three primary habitats, namely the ocean, freshwater environments, and land.
"The presence of these fossilized gastropods indicates how the Masungi landscape was submerged underwater about 60 million years ago," they explained.
The team behind the significant discovery were Allan Gil S. Fernando, Alyssa M. Peleo-Alampay, Leopoldo P. de Silva, Jr., and Joaquin Miguel S. Lacson. They are expected to do a follow-up field investigation in the following months to learn more about the fossils, such as determining the exact age and to confirm its it would be the country’s first and oldest type of mollusk ever recorded.
With this, Masungi highlights the importance of protecting and preserving the area from destructive activities, like encroachment and quarrying.
“The Masungi-Georeserve as a living laboratory for the study and protection of karst terrains represents a unique opportunity for the national and local governments, the academe, and industry partners to come together to develop best practices in the management, protection, and conservation of this important fragile and non-renewable resource,” the researchers said.