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10 Prehistoric Animals That still Alive in the Philippines Today

Errah is a bookwormy and logophilic writer and science & technology teacher. He often writes about scientific ideas, theories, and research.

The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It belongs to the 18 mega biodiverse countries, meaning it belongs to the top biodiversity-rich countries in the world. It has the highest rate of discovery of new species on the planet. Millions of years ago, the archipelago was located underwater, the fossil record attests it. Most of the remains of the ancient animals found in the nation were aquatic organisms. Any remains, or traces of remains, of ancient creatures, such as bones, shells, teeth, impressions on mud, and petrified trunk of a tree are called fossils.

Being rich in both flora and fauna, it is not impossible to find “living fossils” in the whole nation. They are ancient life that haven’t gone extinct, have remained unchanged for millions of years, and that is still around until our (human) time.

This article will showcase 10 prehistoric animals that still roaming in the Philippines today.

1. Lamprey



Lampreys are probably the link between the evolution of invertebrates and vertebrates. It has a notochord but is made up of cartilage. It looks like an eel but they are a different thing. This member of the class agnatha or jawless fishes has a toothed, funnel-like mouth use to suck the blood of its host. They are swimming on our planet for 360 million years ago.

2. Crinoid

Fossils of ancient Crinoids

Fossils of ancient Crinoids

Crinoids are echinoderms related to starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and brittle stars. There are two kinds of crinoids, sea lily (the one that is attached to the substrate) and feather star (free-swimming). They have arms like the other spiny-skinned benthos, but feathery, which is used to catch its foods. They appeared in Ordovician but almost became extinct at the end of the Paleozoic Era but recovered again during the Mesozoic Era and continue to flourish in the ocean today.

3. Chevrotain

Ruminants are animals that have four-chambered stomachs such as cattle, sheep, and giraffe while nonruminants just have one gut which include rhinoceros, hippopotamus, pigs, horses, and elephant. Chevrotain, also called pilandok or mouse-deer, has a three-chambered stomach. They are small even-toed mammals and the smallest ungulates in the world. They share a suborder with deer but are NOT considered “true deer.” It has no horns and antlers and the number of the gut is unusual in any chordates on the planet. It looks like a weird mash-up of a deer, a mouse, a hog, and a rabbit. Evolutionists see them as an evolutionary link between ruminants and nonruminants.

4. Mudskipper

Mudskipper is on the root of a tree.

Mudskipper is on the root of a tree.

Are they fishes that breathe air or amphibians that look like fish? Scientists are still baffled about the classification of mudskipper. They are amphibious fish-like vertebrates that use their fins to walk on mud. They can also climb trees. Although they have gills, they do not use them to breathe, rather, they do it through the skin. They are the probable transition between the primitive swimming chordates and the four-limb vertebrates (all amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals).

5. Glypheoidea

It looks like a lobster but is not. Lobsters have claws and Glypheoidea or Jurassic shrimps don't have. They have believed the probable ancestors of crustaceans. They evolve into lobsters, crabs, hermit crabs, and other marine arthropods. They appeared in the Triassic Period and which was thought to be extinct 50 million years ago but were rediscovered in 1908 off the coast of Manila Bay, in the Philippines. It was like seeing a fossil come back to life.

6. Vampire Squid

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Though it resembles both, this swimmer is neither a squid nor an octopus but classified in another group. It does not suck or drink blood and is harmless, instead, it gets its common name from its appearance and webbing that connects its arms resembling a cape. Sometimes, this creature is called the umbrella squid. They live in deep water at depths of 3000m where the oxygen level is very low and cannot reach by light.

7. Horseshoe Crab

Embossed remains of the relative of trilobites.

Embossed remains of the relative of trilobites.

Horseshoe crabs are not actually crabs at all, they are much more closely related to spiders, scorpions, and ticks and are considered the ancestors of the arachnids. They have been around since the Ordovician period, making them even older than dinosaurs. It has a hard carapace that is shaped like a horseshoe, thus the name.

There are four (4) extant species of these being today, three (3) of them can be found in the country: Carcinoscorpius rotundcauda, Tachypleus gigas, and Tachypleus tridentatus.

8. Nautilus



Nautiloids are the only member of cephalopods with an external shell that are still alive today. They flourish in the ocean together with other aquatic organisms on the list in the Ordovician age. The first and oldest remain of its only extant species, chambered nautilus, are from the Early Pleistocene sediments of Luzon. It is displayed at the Philippine National Museum.

9. Chimeara

Chimaeras, also called ghost sharks, spookfish, or ratfish, are found in deep water. They are classified as sharks but science experts want them to reclassify into another group. They differ from other fearsome man-eaters in that their upper jaws are fused with their skull, having separate anal and urogenital openings, lack any sharp teeth, instead, just grinding tooth plates; and gills have covers. Researchers see them as transition from cartilaginous to bony swimmers. They emerged in the sea in the Late Devonian extinction.

10. Crocodiles and Alligators



Crocodilian lived with the dinosaurs, and they are probably capable of killing and eating the terrible lizards. These beasts have exhibited the same appearance since dominant terrestrial giant vertebrates of the Mesozoic Era, walked the Earth, surviving the mass extinctions caused by a giant asteroid impact that wiped out nearly all the beings during that time. Crocodiles, birds, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs were evolved from the same ancestor, the Archosaurs.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Errah Caunca


Mary Creasemust on July 11, 2020:

I like paleontology and I amaze that there are living fossils in the Philippines. Here in Australia, we have platypus, peripatus and bullhead sharks.

Robert Sacchi on July 08, 2020:

This is a great article about living fossils. I can see where this article can spawn many related articles. Welcome to HubPages.

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