Surfing The Wierd

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Living Fossils - Old is New

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/whats-old-is-ne.html? npu=1&mbid=yhp

What's Old Is New: 12 Living Fossils

By Brandon Keim EmailDecember 05, 2008 | 4:57:14 PMCategories: Animals

To navigate the currents of ecological fate, most creatures adapt — but a few have stuck to their evolutionary guns.

Known as living fossils, they lasted for millions of years with barely a change, even as their relatives went extinct or took different paths across the tree of life.

Many are now threatened or endangered. But with some luck and a little help, living fossils will be able to survive the age of humans, too.

Purplefrog

The Purple frog, discovered just five years ago in western India, likely escaped detection because it lives underground, emerging for just two weeks during the monsoon season. Distinguished by a pointed snout, it's related to a family of frogs now found only on the Seychelles islands, which split from India 100 million years ago.

Image: WikiMedia Common

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http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/photogalleries/frilled-shark/index.html

Rare "Prehistoric" Shark Photographed Alive

Photos: Rare Frilled Shark Photographed Alive
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Flaring the gills that give the species its name, a frilled shark swims at Japan's Awashima Marine Park on Sunday, January 21, 2007. Sightings of living frilled sharks are rare, because the fish generally remain thousands of feet beneath the water's surface. Spotted by a fisher on January 21, this 5.3-foot (160-centimeter) shark was transferred to the marine park, where it was placed in a seawater pool. "We think it may have come to the surface because it was sick, or else it was weakened because it was in shallow waters," a park official told the Reuters news service. But the truth may never be known, since the "living fossil" died hours after it was caught.

Scientists disagree over whether the frilled shark has survived for 380 milllion years, or a mere 95 million years. Only two living specimens have been found — both off the coast in Japan, in the late 19th century and again in 2007 — but they are sometimes caught accidentally by deep-sea fishing nets.

Video: Xagtho Channel

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Jurassicshrimp

Until a preserved specimen was found in the Smithsonian in 1975, the 10-footed, lobster-like Jurassic shrimp was thought to have gone extinct 50 million years ago. Living Jurassic shrimp have since been found.

Image: Census of Marine Life

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Sikhotealiniazhiltzovae2 What it lacks in convenient nomenclature, the Siberian Sikhotealinia zhiltzovae makes up for in uniqueness: it's the only three-eyed beetle. Some scientists consider it a forerunner of nearly all winged insects.

Image: St. Petersburg Zoological Institute .................................................................

Peripatus or Velvet Worm (Macroperipatus sp.) by PrimevalNature.com.
Peripatus or Velvet Worm (Macroperipatus sp.), a nocturnal predator of small invertebrates, 'living fossil', central Panama.

Found mostly in Southern Hemisphere rain forests, velvet worms have legs and — unlike other worms — bear live young. Closely related to tardigrades, their legs are hollow and supported by fluid pressure. After a few early adaptations for land, they've hardly changed in 360 million years.

Video: InfiniteWorld

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Croc

The most widespread of all living fossils, crocodiles have barely changed in the 230 million years since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Image: Flickr/Keven Law ................................................................

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One of the relatively few mammalian living fossils, duck-billed platypuses have been weird for 110 million years: in addition to their bills, they lay eggs and have venom-filled leg spurs. No wonder they were considered a hoax by early naturalists.

Video: Springbreakwas2short

Video: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090206-dna-missions-video-wc.html

Nautilus2

Its spiraling chambered shell was a symbol of perfection in ancient Greece, and the nautilus has changed little in 500 million years.

Image: Flickr/Ethan Hein

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Horseshoecrab

Found commonly on Atlantic beaches, horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders, ticks and scorpions than crabs. Their ancestors evolved in the Paleozoic's shallow seas, and they've evolved only slightly in the last 445 million years. If you see one on its back, flip it over: They can regrow lost limbs, but can't right themselves when tossed in the surf.

Image: Flickr/Chris Howard

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Mheureka

Better known as the "Ant from Mars," Martialis heureka is a direct-line descendant of the last common ancestor of all ants — a subterranean forager who wouldn't go above-ground until flowering plants evolved 120 million years ago. Image: Christian Rabeling

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Coelacanth vanished from the fossil record 410 million years ago — and then one was caught in 1938 off the coast of South Africa. A second species was discovered in Indonesian waters in 1999.

Video: Pinktentacle3

Mantisshrimp_2

Neither a mantis nor a shrimp, the mantis shrimp has changed little in 400 million years. It has the world's most complex eyes, and its prey-killing claw motion is the second-fastest animal motion. To quote mantis shrimp eye researcher Tom Cronin, "Whenever they get into any type of situation, they smash things. You can't pick these up. They're really great animals to have around."

Image: Tom Cronin

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