This decade, the Philippines shocked the world with some of the greatest discoveries ever made, some of which are so compelling that they overturn some of the most well-established theories conerning humans. While there are hundreds of discoveries made this decade, we selected some of the best discoveries in the Philippines.
May 2014: Metal-Eating Plant
In 2014, one of the weirdest and possibly most useful plants in the world was discovered in the Philippines: the metal-eating plant. Known as Rinorea niccolifera, the plant can absorb nickel without being poisoned. The plant’s ultra-rare ability to eat toxic nickel and other minerals could be used in cleaning up polluted soil, especially in areas where nickel is mined.
A radical new approach to mining could also be possible with the metal-eating plant. It could be possible to just harvest the plants instead of digging the earth to extract minerals. Sadly, the metal-eating plant is facing the threat of extinction.
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August 2016: The World’s Largest Pearl
The world’s largest pearl, unofficially named as the Pearl of Puerto Princesa, was discovered in 2016 in Palawan. It was kept by a local fisherman under his bed for 10 years as a good luck charm, not knowing it was actually a pearl. For fear of attracting poachers and illegal fishers, the exact location of where the pearl was found is kept a secret, too. Weighing 34 kilograms, the pearl is estimated to be worth $130 million.
The previous record-holder was the Pearl of Lao Tzu, a 6.4-kilogram find, which was also discovered in the Philippines. In June 2019, another giant pearl from the Philippines made headlines around the world. Filipino-Canadian Abraham Reyes revealed that he owns Giga Pearl, which he claims his grandfather bought from a Filipino fisherman in 1959. The Giga Pearl 27.65 kilograms and is estimated to be worth $90 million.
April 2017: Giant Shipworm
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Dubbed as the Loch Ness Monster of mollusks and also the oceanic unicorn, the giant shipworm was already known in the province of Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, where locals had been eating it as a delicacy even before it was discovered by scientists in 2017. What they didn’t know is that it is a famed species that has eluded science for more than 300 years. It was first recorded in the 18th century.
Contrary to what its name suggests, the shipworm is not actually a worm but a mollusk, like the famed tamilok of Palawan. Shipworms eat wood, and are suspected of helping the British defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Spanish Armada had been moored in the shipworm-infested harbors for months, suffering much damage in the form of holes carved out by shipworms.
Unlike its smaller cousins, the giant shipworm does not feed on wood or ships, but on organic nutrients found in mud in shallow bays.