Scientific travel – Living fossils, where to find them

Although most living fossils are animals, there are also species of plants and microorganisms that fall into this category.

The term “living fossil” is used to describe a species that has remained relatively unchanged for a long period of time, perhaps hundreds of millions of years. In other words, they have evolved very little since they appeared on Earth, and this is a sign that their evolution process was successful and allowed them to survive for so long.

The next time you take a trip to explore nature, you might find one of these fascinating living fossils.

1. The coelacanth

coelacanth

The coelacanth is a fish that was believed to have been extinct for over 65 million years. However, in 1938, a live specimen was discovered off the coast of South Africa. Since then, several other coelacanths have been found in the Indian Ocean, especially in Indonesia, Comoros and even off the coast of Japan.

Photograph: spherical

2. The horseshoe crab

horseshoe crab

The horseshoe crab is a creature that has remained largely unchanged for over 450 million years. These crabs can be found on the coasts of North America and Asia. In addition to their unique appearance, horseshoe crabs are also valuable to science because their blood contains a substance that helps fight bacterial infections.

Photograph: James Saint John

3. The Wollemi Pine

wollemi pine

The Wollemi pine is a tree believed to have been extinct for over 2 million years. However, in 1994, a small grove of these trees was discovered in a remote canyon in Australia. Since its discovery, Wollemi pine has become very popular and can now be found in gardens and nurseries all over the world.

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Photograph: John Tann

4. The tuatara

Tuatara

The tuatara is a lizard that has remained unchanged for over 200 million years. These creatures can only be found on the islands of New Zealand.

Photograph: Bernard Sprag. New Zealand

5. The Ginkgo Biloba Tree

ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a tree that has remained unchanged for over 270 million years. These trees can be found in China and Japan.

6. The Nautilus

nautilus

The nautilus is a marine creature that has remained unchanged for 500 million years. These creatures are found in the waters of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

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