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Trove of ancient fossils unearthed at Banteay Meanchey’s Bak Mountain

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A view of Phnom Bak in Banteay Meanchey province, which has now been designated as a protected area. ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

Trove of ancient fossils unearthed at Banteay Meanchey’s Bak Mountain

The Ministry of Environment said it regards the Bak Mountain region of Banteay Meanchey province’s Serei Saophoan town as a conservation area after the discovery of numerous fossils from a variety of species of marine animals there.

The ministry said that a recent study found that Bak Mountain is a large marine fossil repository and important research site for ancient marine animals with species such as brachiopods, corals and crinoids, similar to Kang Va Mountain, which has fossils of gastropods, echinoids, bryozoans and petrified wood.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said that according to a recent study of Bak Mountain, fossilized species such as snails and fish were found there in abundance and these types of fossils are useful for people studying prehistoric Cambodia.

Pheaktra noted that this is part of the natural evolution of the study of Cambodia’s natural resources, which is branching out with increasing sophistication into other fields and that it is useful for Cambodia to compile historical data on natural resources and the history of land formation for the benefit of other research projects.

He added that the discovery of the fossils also made it easier to determine which parts of Cambodia should be given maximum protection and conservation as heritage sites and which have more potential as tourist destinations.

“Bak Mountain is an important site because we have studied it and discovered many fossils. So we need to be careful in its management as well as its protection, maintenance and conservation. After we conducted the study, concrete and important information about the significance of this mountain was revealed. This is a place that must be preserved, because it contains fossils associated with the history of Cambodia’s environment.

“We also hope that the Bak Mountain will be an important tourist destination because we have nature tourism, culture tourism and we also have tourism associated with palaeontology and archaeology,” Pheaktra said.

He added that in 2020 the government issued a sub-decree designating Bak Mountain as a natural heritage site and the ministry will collaborate with relevant institutions to preserve the Bak Mountain area.

Bak Mountain is located in Teuk Thla commune of Serei Saophoan town in Banteay Meanchey province and covers an area of 36 ha. To the west of the Bak mountain at its foot stands a pagoda and there is another pagoda located on the mountain along with many caves associated with the pagodas and their compounds.

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