TABUK CITY, Kalinga—A team of local and foreign archaeologists have dug up on the side of a hill in this northern Philippines city a vertebrae of a giant and unknown animal, which was estimated to have existed about 800,000 years ago, a member of the research team said on Friday.
Thomas Inggico, a paleontologist of the University of the Philippines- Archaeological Studies Program (UP-ASP), described the vertebrae unearthed at Elephant Hill archaeological site in San Pedro, Rizal as the remains of an animal bigger than a carabao but “it does not belong to an elephant.”
“We need more research to determine this animal,” Inggico said.
The scientists also found stone tools that suggest humans lived in the area thousands of years ago. The exact age of the stone tools were still being determined.
The UP-ASP discovered rhinoceros teeth fossils in the area in 1935, its first archaeological discovery. Archaeologists also dug up elephant skeletons and the site became known as Elephant Hill.
Inggico prohibited reporters from taking pictures of the skeletons and said: “We are not authorized to release any information on the results of the excavation without clearance from the national museum.”
Maria Kathryn Manalo, another member of the UP-ASP research team, called on residents in the area to help conserve the site and said treasure hunting was not allowed anywhere near the diggings.
“People should understand that archaeological items are bereft of monetary value and that meddling or intruding in archaeological sites is a criminal offense,” Manalo said.
Rizal Mayor Marcelo de la Cruz called on farmers to desist from expanding their farms toward the site and those who plan to sell lands near the area should coordinate with the municipality.
The Rizal municipal council has declared Elephant Hill as protected area and government has been working to delineate the archaeological reservation in preparation for its development plans.
Gov. Joel Baac said efforts of the municipal government to protect Elephant Hill as a new heritage site was a boost to the province’s tourism industry, considering that Kalinga has been declared by law as a tourism development area.
Baac commended the UP-ASP for its discovery of the rich history of the province and the archaeological site will help it attain its full potential as a premier tourist destination in Luzon.
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