What are some of the oldest animals that haven’t changed much in millions of years and are essentially living fossils? Did you know that the Giant Chinese Salamander is the world’s largest amphibian, and it breathes through its skin?! Find out more about this giant salamander and other living fossils in this video!
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Here are a few of the most fascinating living fossils!
10 – Pig Nosed Turtle
With a nose like a pig and flippers on their feet, Pig Nosed turtles look like no creature we’ve ever seen before. Although a few studies have been done in the wild, Pig Nosed Turtles in captivity have been known to show aggression. This might suggest they’re more territorial than many of their turtle peers. They’re the last surviving member of their family making them a living fossil. The term living fossil is a loosely defined term that’s generally associated with species that haven’t changed much at all, and at least closely resemble other species that we otherwise only know as fossils. Living Fossils are pretty important for a few reasons. Mostly, they provide a window into an ancient biological world that we’d otherwise only know through fossil records. Also despite the appearance of a lack of evolution, Living Fossils provide a tangible example of Stabilizing Selection, an important stage in the evolutionary process. These interesting turtles are found mainly in freshwater streams, rivers and lagoons in Northern Australia and In New Guinea as well. Because of their bizarre appearance, they’ve become popular among exotic pet traders. Even though laws in places such as Indonesia prohibit the trade of these turtles, authorities have confiscated some 10,000 turtles from smugglers back in 2010. Do us a big favor and hit that like button!
9 – The Purple Frog
The Purple Frog has almost a cartoonish like appearance. Kinda like a Pokemon character or something! In 2003 when researchers discovered the species, they described it as looking like a bloated doughnut with stubby legs and a pointed snout. As unflattering a description as that is and as odd as they may be to look at, national Geographic dubbed their discovery an “Once in a Century” occurrence in 2003. It’s believed they’re the successors to an ancient frog lineage that evolved roughly 130 million years ago along with dinosaurs. Found in the Western Ghat Mountain range in India, these frogs were only distantly related to a group of frogs living in the The Seychelles in Africa. Other than that, they have no living relatives. But we do know that they’ve been around for at least 100 million years!
8 – Vampire Squid
Vampire Squids are one of those creatures you have to see to believe. Aside from having a pretty cool name and a crazy appearance, they’re also biologically significant.
Scientifically they’re known as Vampyroteuthis infernalis which translates to “Vampire squid from hell.” That’s a bit extreme if you ask me. They pretty much just float around eating these floating particles called “Marine Snow.” Not much is known about the behavior as they have trouble surviving in captivity, and an artificial environment makes their non-defensive behavior unreliable anyways. They’re hard to observe in their natural environment because of where they live. Given their low metabolic rate, vampire squids have to use some interesting tactics to conserve energy while avoiding their predators. They’ll eject a sticky cloud of bioluminescent mucus that are essentially orbs of blue light. This probably acts to daze predators and allows the vampire squid to disappear into the blackness without the need to swim far. Combine that with the writhing of glowing arms and erratic movements, vampire squids make it difficult for its predator to identify a single target. Now, as far as the living fossil business goes. The Vampire Squid can date its lineage back to ancient Octopi some 165 million years ago. Pretty impressive to live that long while being tired all the time right?