Gopeng cave fossil is more than 300,000 years old, says Perak exco

Perak Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing speaks to reporters in Ipoh April 12, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing speaks to reporters in Ipoh April 12, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, April 22 — The Perak State Legislative Assembly was told today that a fossil found in Gua Naga Mas in Gopeng is some 320,200 years old and not between 12,000 and 15,000 years as previously claimed.

State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Tan Kar Hing said this was the finding from the latest fossil date study at the Earth Observatory of Singapore in Nanyang Technological University.

He said in his winding up speech that a technical adviser committee, headed by Universiti Malaya geologist Dr Ros Fatihah Muhammad, was set up to study the cave.

“Three visits were made to the site with the last visit late last year that was also joined by experts from Britain, Taiwan and Singapore,” he said, adding that a report on the cave is expected to be tabled at the Conference of Global Man and Karst in Sicily, Italy in June.

Malay Mail had in October last year reported that a 98cm-long fossil is exposed on the cave ceiling, which is around seven metres above the cave floor.

The cave itself is around 30 metres from ground level.

The widely-held belief is that the skeleton belongs to a wild cat, but some have speculated that it could be a bear or a panther.

With the finding, Tan said the fossils in Gua Naga Mas is more valuable than expected, adding that more research was still needed.

He said at the moment, the fossil site had been upgraded with the installation of tapered glass and grilled gate.

“This is to ensure the fossil is protected and preserved,” he said.

For the purpose of tourism and education, Tan said a local guide and interpretation briefing is being drawn up.

“Meetings with schools will also be held so that programmes to bring students to the site for field studies can be organised,” he said.

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