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Media Article # 470

Monday, February 13, 2006

[Malaysia effort will likely uncover other new species]

By Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa
Bernama (Malaysia National News Agency)

JOHOR BAHARU, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- The exciting discovery of new flora and fauna at the Foja Mountains in Indonesia recently has raised the possibility of similar finding in the Endau-Rompin National Park, bordering Johor and Pahang.

A local biodiversity and environment expert Vincent Chow said he was highly optimistic of such discovery at the 250 million year old nature reserve because so far only 10 percent of the area was studied by the scientific community.

"There are many "surprises" awaiting including the possibility of discovering "Bigfoot" or "Orang Mawas".

"There are still many forest and mountain range in the country that is yet to be explored by humans up to now, including the Orang Asli who dwell there," said Chow who created a sensation last December when he revealed the possible existence of a creature similar to the Big Foot in the western part of the park.

Vincent told this to Bernama when asked to comment on the recent discovery in Foja Mountains dubbed by the scientific community as the "Garden of Eden" and the possibility of a similar discovery in the Malaysian jungles.

Moreover, he said, the Orang Asli community residing in the Endau-Rompin national park claimed that many times they had come across animals that are difficult to identify.

The Orang Asli dwelling in Selai, the entry point to the western part of the reserve, once claimed that they had come across an animal known as the "Setontot" that creeps on the forest floor.

Chow said research conducted by him and others at the national park since 2002 found fish species that were never recorded before and it's probably a prelude for more discoveries.

"We found 92 fresh water species that was previously unknown at the national park," he said.

Among the findings that took the scientific community by surprise was the discovery of a two centimetre transparent ancient fish by his team and an expert from the United States.

"Prof Tyson Robert from the American Academy of Science, a renowned Southeast Asia fresh water fish expert, had concurred that the species found by our group can be categorised as primitive or fossil fishes," said Chow.

"We have yet to name the species," he said.

The American expert said the fish at one time lived in the Sunda River that existed 15,000 years ago when the South China Sea was a land mass.

Satellite pictures show that the ancient river had stretched through Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

"That is why the primitive fish can be found in Thailand and Indonesia as well," he said.

He said the state government's proposal to set up a scientific committee to study the existence of Big Foot in fact could be a prelude to the discovery of other new flora and fauna.


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