The Philippines has “the kind of diversity that most people associate with the Galapagos Islands,” according to Dr. Lawrence Heaney, the curator and head of mammals at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Created by volcanoes and located some 972 kilometers west of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands vast number of endemic species, not found anywhere else on earth, inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. Citing the fact that 25 previously unknown species of mammals were recently discovered in the country (Heaney) a renowned authority on island ecosystems. Since the early 1980s, Heaney has teamed up with Filipino biologists to conduct field studies on small mammals like bats, rats and mice throughout the Philippines. Based on this research, he concluded that the Philippines were one of the world’s premier natural laboratories for understanding biodiversity.

The island of this archipelago are 10 or even 100 times better for observing the kind of diversity that most people associate only with the Galapagos Island. Understanding a bit of geological history could help explain how the Philippines became such a wonderful laboratory. Traditionally, people were taught that the Philippines were connected by land bridges to Borneo, Taiwan and other nearby areas. It is now wide accepted that except for the Palawan group, which was very likely part of Borneo at one time, the rest of the Philippines was not attached to any major land mass.

The discovery of a “dwarf cloud rat” last year in the Mt. Pulag national park in Benguet was amazing; adding that the last time anyone saw such creature was in 1896. The dwarf cloud rat was a previously unknown relative of the “giant cloud rat.”

There were, however, many threats to maintaining this biodiversity such us rapid growth of population, illegal logging, climate changes, etc…


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