10 Prehistoric Creatures That Still Exist Today
- Published on: 3/10/2020
- 10 Prehistoric Creatures That Still Exist Today
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10 Prehistoric Creatures that Still Exist Today
We all think that the age of the dinosaurs is over, oh how wrong we are. Today we will be taking a look at 10 prehistoric creatures that still exist today. Number one is special, who knew that such a fragile animal would turn out to be one of the oldest species still living today? Watch out for that.
Number 10. The Lamprey
The lamprey is a parasitic fish that has survived four major evolutionary extinctions in their 360 million years of swimming the ocean, though they are now mainly confined to the Atlantic Ocean and in the Great Lakes. Similar in structure to leeches or eels, they do not possess bones, but instead have a cartilaginous skeleton with a single tail fin, and feed off other fish by sucking nutrients from their bloodstream.
While lampreys lack jaws, they use a large suction-like mouth filled with tiny horned shaped teeth and a razor-sharp tongue. Though the teeth can look intimidating, it’s the tongue you need to watch out for. The teeth simply help the lamprey attach to its victim while the tongue does most of the work—scraping away enough scales to reach the soft flesh of the fish.
Currently, they are important to the work of scientists as they are crucial to understanding how the first backboned animals evolved and, with their remarkable ability to heal from severe nerve damage, how spinal cord injuries can be healed in humans.
Since lampreys can live both in fresh and saltwater, they play a major role in healthy estuaries, transporting nutrients from the ocean to freshwater environments.
Number 9. The Nautilus
No, we’re not talking about the submarine used by Capt. Ahab, we are talking about the prehistoric animal that it was named after. Dominating the ancient seas 500 million years ago, the nautilus was a mollusk that thrived when the continents were still forming. Originally, there were 10,000 different species—today, only a few survive in the western Pacific Ocean and coast of the Indian Ocean.
Chambered nautiluses hunt for fish, crabs and lobsters by using chemosensors on their 90 retractable, sucker-less tentacles to pick up food scents. They use their beak-like mouth to pry open tough shells and an internal tube, called the hyponomoe, to regulate the amount of water and air in their shell—mastering the art of buoyancy so well that we looked to the nautilus to inspire the submarine.
With gorgeous shells that come in an array of colors and patterns, the nautilus is at risk of overharvesting. Additionally, they are considered a highly vulnerable species due to their low reproductive rates, slow growth and late maturity.
Number 8. The Giant Freshwater Stingray
One of the largest, if not the largest, freshwater fishes in the world, the giant freshwater stingray grows upwards of 1.9 meters across and may reach 600 kg in weight. Its thin, oval pectoral fin disc is estimated to have evolved about 100 million years ago. Brown to gray in color, the giant stingrays are wide and flat in form, and they sport long, whip-like tails. They are known to prowl river systems in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia, often burying themselves in sandy or silty river bottoms. They breathing through holes, or spiracles, on the top of their bodies.
Although stingrays do not readily attack humans, they are one of the few megafishes that can pose a real danger to those who handle them. Each ray has a sharp barb on the base of its tail that can easily penetrate human skin and bone, much like a hunting arrow. This stinger can be as long as 15 inches and typically introduces toxins to the victim’s wound. Experts, however, stress that the rays are non-aggressive and inquisitive.
Number 7. The Horseshoe Crab
The horseshoe crab is one of evolution’s ultimate survivors, dating back 450 million years—outliving the dawn of dinosaurs and five mass extinctions. They’re also not actually crabs. The horseshoe crab is classified under subphylum chelicerata, along with scorpions, spiders and ticks.
The anatomy of a horseshoe crab consists of three parts—the front shell, the back shell (opisthosoma) and the tail. Although you may think they are poisonous or can sting you, the horseshoe crab is practically harmless, using its tail as a rudder and to turn itself over if flipped on its back.
Did we leave any animal out? Of course we did so make sure to let us know in the comments section below. Want to watch more videos about amazing animals? Click on any of the videos you see on your screen. As always, thanks for watching.