The history of the world may trace back to a time long before humans ever walked the Earth. But that doesn’t mean there are not species who have made the trip through millions of years. To these 10 prehistoric animals, we humans are the new kids on the block.
1. Goblin Shark
The first ancestors of this terrifying Goblin shark are believed to have existed as early as 125 million years ago. While larger species marched into extinction, the 11-foot Goblin shark has somehow lived on in many of the World’s oceans. While maintaining a low profile on account of its preference for residing deep down near the ocean floor. As such, and despite their frightening appearance, they don’t pose much of a threat to humans, a species with whom they rarely ever interact who’s to say they won’t continue existing in relative anonymity for millions of years to come.
2. Alligator Gar
One unsettling glimpse at the hideous Alligator Gar makes it plainly evident that this is not a creature from this or any other recognizably modern era. In fact, they are often referred to as “Living Fossils” on account of their still-existing morphological characteristics which tie it to its prehistoric ancestor from 100 Million years ago including the ability to breathe air and water and it’s double-rowed set of teeth.
3. Giant Chinese Salamanders
There’s something impressive about the continued existence of the giant Chinese Salamander. A nearly blind creature that has still trudged on to live through 30 Million years. Although they tend to get aggressive around mating season, these salamanders are actually very timid. Non-threatening creatures despite growing to about four feet and 70 lbs, feasting mostly on smaller salamanders, worms and crayfish. They reign as the largest living amphibians on Earth, but typically remain hidden in their underwater breeding dens where they allow several females to enter and lay large clusters of eggs.
They look like those Chinese finger traps that you tend to find in dollar stores, but Lampreys actually are living breathing fish that have been around for approximately 360 Million years. These tube-like fish are jaw-less, with teeth found within it’s suctioning mouth that allow it to bore into the flesh of other fish to suck out their innards. In an evolutionary sense, Lampreys occupy a strange space in that they are rarely vertebrae and hardly even fish, outdating those species. They basically serve as the missing link between fish and whatever predated them.
5. Giant River Stingray
What might look like a Guinness world records entry for largest pancake is actually the 16 foot long Giant River Stingray, a holdover from the Jurassic Era. The Stingray comes equipped with a powerful 15-inch poisonous serrated spike for a tail, which helps explain it’s long life span. They also possess adaptive qualities to blend in with their surrounding environment being made invisible by living exclusively in rivers that are uniformly murky and unclear. Even if you could find a member of this ancient species, it’s hard to comprehend why anyone would want to.
Most entries on this list can atleast partially credit their remarkably long existence with their own physical makeup be it assets for prey-hunting or an evolutionary knack for blending into surroundings. The cute, furry Solenodon doesn’t possess any physically intimidating qualities but has remained in existence for 30 Million years with some very critical survival instincts. They are willing to eat anything that their elongated noses can sniff out securing prey easier through the venom they can inject through their sharp teeth. Although their clumsy gait makes them easy targets of larger predators, they are excellent burrowers and can throw attackers off the scent by hiding their heads.
It’s been factitiously suggested that only Cockroaches and Twinkies will survive a global apocalypse but surely sponges warrant some consideration as well. Evidence recently emerged that found a fossilized sea sponge sample within a 760 Million years old rock. Estimates do vary on the evolutionary span of the sea sponge, which is scientifically considered a part of the animal family despite possessing neither a brain nor central nervous system. As such, they are living on the ocean floor and attaching themselves permanently to a solid location under the water without moving.
Scientists have long used the Tuatara to help in understanding the evolution of both Lizards and Snakes. Dating back 200 Million years, they possess a body and bone structure that experts believe has remained the same for their entire existence. These New Zealand based creatures can grow to nearly three feet in length and are marked by a pronounced spiky crest that leads along their back. Despite it’s resemblance to a Lizard, the Tuatara’s closest relatives are an extinct group of reptiles that roamed the Earth at the same time as the Dinosaurs.
9. Pygmy Right Whale
The Pygmy whale, the smallest of the Baleen whales, remains so rare and infrequently seen that it was thought to be extinct until 2012 when it was rediscovered. These whales are fairly unique to their species, growing to only 21 feet in length and boasting a strange arched frown-like snout that sets in apart from humpbacks and blue whales with scientists believing that a divergence occurred between 17 and 25 Million years ago. The Pygmy Whale’s skull most closely resembles an ancient family of whales known as Cetotheres which were believed extinct 2 Million years ago.
Perhaps the least surprising entry on this list, Crocodilians really do resemble their Dinosaur predecessors. These large beasts are solidly built and can either slither Lizard-like on their bellies or lift their torsos off the ground in a decidedly more Dino sort of way. They are among the rare remnants of the early triassic period, dating back more than 250 Million years. Today’s Crocodilians, which share many of the same morphological features of their ancient ancestors tend to reside in the tropics, although they can also be found in the Southeastern US and within China’s Yangtzee river.
Science is awesome and so are these animals, please do share and subscribe to our daily digest newsletter.
Cover Image: wild-facts