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A team of scientists from Philippines and United States established that Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, has the highest number of endemic mammal species in the world.
The study was 15 years long, and it revealed that 93 percent of land mammals from Luzon Island are unique, meaning that they cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. It is most like one of the most valuable biodiversity treasures in a world where human excess has taken its toll on the planet’s ecosystem.
According to Lawrence Heaney, lead researcher from the Field Museum in Chicago, scientists began their research in 2000 because they had already known that the island had unique characteristics thanks to its plentiful wildlife.
But the target of the study was to establish the reason why Luzon had been so well preserved for such a long time. Also, scientists have found many other species which were not previously recorded.
Based on the findings between 2000 and 2012, 28 new species of non-flying mammals were discovered in 17 locations. It means that there are 56 known species of land mammals found until now, twice as many as scientists knew before the study.
Among the new species, there are five species of mice which have a shrew appearance and rely on earthworms as their primary source of food. But even more fascinating is that other four species of tree-mice have whiskers almost long enough to reach their feet.
Wildlife biologists have given a name to nineteen species, but nine of them still need further analysis. At the end of the study, researchers came to the conclusion that Luzon has such a rich biodiversity for various reasons.
The island is huge as it consists of 40,000 square miles, meaning that it is probably as large as Iceland or Cuba. This area is large enough to sustain a wide variety of species. Also, humans had little access to this island. In other words, there was no human influence on the ecosystem.
The mountains covered in dense forests have played a significant role in preserving every species because they represent natural barriers and provide the ideal environment for the Luzon’s endemic species to thrive.
According to Eric Rickart, one of the team members from the Natural History Museum of Utah, they discovered 28 species of non-flying mammals living in Luzon during the research and all of them were established as part of two branches that exist only in the Philippines, which was even more impressive.
Image Source:Dic Academic