Mindful kids: Top five living fossils

SOLENODON: What weird, yet cute-looking creatures! They’re nocturnal, burrowing mammals and you’ll be surprised to know that they’re also venomous. They inhabit a few Caribbean countries. Their genetic structure hasn’t really changed much during the past 76 million years that their ancestors came to exist on earth. (Image: www.animalencyclopedia.info)

HEY kids! For those of you who are really interested in dinosaurs and prehistory, you’d be pleased to know that there are still dinosaur-like creatures alive today. We refer to them as living fossils, because their genetic structure hasn’t changed much in millions of years. Here are our top five living fossils.

GOBLIN SHARK: This bizarre-looking, rare and misunderstood creature comes from the deep sea. It measures up to four metres long. Its direct ancestors appeared around 125 million years ago, but the goblin shark hasn’t changed much since then. Thankfully, these creatures are not dangerous to humans. (Image: www.endlessocean.wikia.com)

CROCODILIANS: It’s not hard to believe that crocodilians are living fossils since they clearly resemble what dinosaurs used to look like. Crocodilians include crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gharials and false gharials. They first appeared on earth in the Early Triassic Period (around 250 million years ago) and, apart from the fact that they no longer walk on their hind legs, they haven’t changed much since. (Image: Pixabay)

GIANT FRESHWATER STINGRAY: This is one of the largest freshwater fish species in the world. It can grow up to two metres across and weigh up to 600 kilograms. Its genetic makeup has stayed nearly the same for the past 100 million years. Unfortunately, this creature is near-extinct due to being fished and losing habitat. (Image: Pinterest)

ECHIDNA: Apart from the platypus, this is the only mammal that lays eggs. The echidna and platypus used to be in the same genetic family, but they separated 48-19 million years ago when the echidna adapted to rather live on land than water. These creatures are also referred to as “spiny anteaters”. (Image: Pixabay)

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  AUTHOR
Monique van Wyk
Journalist

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