It seems that today we’re living in a world devoid of ancient horrors that haunted prehistoric people, and while it may be true to some point (T-Rex is gone for sure), there are still some creatures left around that haven’t changed much since they first appeared millions of years ago. Most of these critters aren’t huge in size (Krakens and Giant Squids are hard to find these days) but they really do look peculiar and sometimes downright frightening. It seems that Mother Nature has completely forgotten about their existence and evolution just stopped at some point. Here are 8 weird creatures that haven’t changed much for the last few millions of years.
Ever wondered what kinds of animals have been walking the Earth before the dinosaurs first appeared? Well, this is what some of them looked like. These incredible survivors are 540 million years old and have successfully outlived some of the more menacing and aggressive species. Maybe it was the fierce-looking shell that has protected them for millions of years, or maybe it were the 5 pairs of eyes they have. Two of them you can actually see poking from the shell. Horseshoe crabs are related to the more ancient trilobites that once inhabited our planet. Their blood is even used for testing vaccines and drugs.
While scientists are still not sure as to the age of this species (it might very well turn out to be a more ‘modern’ animal), this Giant Squid surely looks like it belongs in the prehistoric era. Caught in the waters of Antarctica, this huge animal weighed 770 pounds and was as long as a huge bus. Colossal squid sightings are something you only read about in books or hear from salty mariners, but here it is – the stuff of legends!
These ancient creatures look both gorgeous and freaky at the same time. They have been around for more than 700 million years and are truly among the oldest creatures on Earth. They have tentacle-like appendages called ‘combs’ that are used for swimming. As they move, Ctenophores reflect light in a peculiar and beautiful way, creating gorgeous rainbows all around them.
Only 6 species of Nautilus remain today, out of hundreds that used to inhabit the oceans. Nautilus has an incredible shell that works as a submarine and has chambers that can be filled with water or gas when the creature needs to go deeper or ascend. Apart from ‘driving’ the very first ‘submarine’ that’s ever been invented, these creatures haven’t really changed at all during the past 500 million years or so.
Tuatara is probably the closest thing to dinosaurs you can still see roaming the Earth. Scientists sometimes refer to them as ‘living dinosaurs’ because of their similarity to the giant lizards that once populated our planet. Being almost 220 million years old, they really haven’t changed much during the course of history. This un-evolved species can be found in a number of islands around New Zealand and sometimes on the mainland as well.
You don’t need to know the exact age of tadpole shrimps to see that these creatures are prehistoric. They just have this weird ‘ancient’ look that can’t be confused with something else. Tadpole shrimps (also called ‘shield’ shrimps because of their look) develop quickly from an egg into an adult and it takes them mere three weeks to grow up. It’s easy to see how they’ve survived for 250 million years, outliving dinosaurs and other big prehistoric creatures.
This menacing species of fish was recently re-discovered in 1938. Scientists believed they have gone extinct along with the dinosaurs millions of years ago, but these creatures re-emerged on the coasts of South Africa, proving they were still pretty much alive and kicking. Just like most of prehistoric animals that can be found today, Coelacanths haven’t changed much and bear great likeness to the fossils that are 350 million years old.
Both New Zealand and Australia are known for its exotic and peculiar creatures, so it comes as no surprise that one of the oldest shark species can be found there. Elephant Sharks use their distinctive snouts to get to shellfish hidden in the sand, that’s basically how they hunt. According to the Nature magazine, they are the slowest-evolving out of all known shark species. Also known as the Australian Ghost Shark, these creatures are about 420 million years old.