We have already published a few posts about some of the weirdest, largest or most dangerous dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures that went extinct millions years ago but in fact, some of these ancient animals are still around. With no or just little changes to their prehistoric appearance and behavior, some of these creatures can be found even in the modern world. From scary descendants of deep-sea prehistoric sharks to a 120 million-year-old ant, check out these 25 prehistoric animals that are alive today.
Last Updated on
Martialis heureka ant
Discovered in 2000 in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, this ant species is notable for its unusual morphology. Belonging to the oldest known distinct lineage to have diverged from the ancestors of all other ants, the martialis heureka ant is estimated to have roamed our planet for about 120 million years.
Measuring up to 4 m (13 ft) long when mature, the goblin shark is a rare, poorly understood species of deep-sea shark. Its bizarre, scary appearance suggests the creature has its origins in prehistoric era; the first direct ancestors of goblin shark lived as early as 125 million years ago. Despite the frightening look and large size, this shark species is practically harmless to humans.
Horseshoe crabs are marine arthropods that live primarily in and around shallow ocean waters on soft sandy or muddy bottoms. Considered the closest relative to the legendary trilobite, horseshoe crab ranks among the most well-known of the living fossils, having remained virtually unchanged for an astonishing 450 million years.
Together with the platypus, echidna is the only surviving extant mammal that lay eggs. Scientific studies suggest that echidnas split from platypuses between 48 and 19 million years ago. Their common ancestor was aquatic, but echidnas have adapted to life on land. Due to its very unusual appearance, the echidna was named after the “Mother of monsters” in Greek mythology.
Endemic to New Zealand, tuataras grow up to 80 cm (31 in) long and are marked by a spiny crest along the back, especially pronounced in males. Though they look like modern-day reptiles and lizards, they have a body structure that scientists believe has remained basically the same for 200 million years. For this reason, tuatara is of great interest in the study of the evolution of both lizards and snakes.