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10 Prehistoric Animals That Still Alive and Exist in the Philippines Today

Hailing from the Philippines. Eric teaches paleontology and evolution. He loves studying fossils and dinosaurs.

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 in the world. Millions of years ago, the Philippines was located underwater, the fossil record attests it. Most of the fossils found in the country were aquatic organisms. Fossils are any remains, or traces of remains, of ancient creatures, such as bones, shells, teeth, impressions on mud, and petrified trunk of a tree.

Being rich in both flora and fauna, it is not impossible to find living fossils in the whole archipelago. Living fossils are ancient species that haven’t gone extinct, have remained relatively unchanged for millions of years, and that are still around until today.

This article will showcase 10 animal living fossils found in the Philippines.

Advice from a fossil:

Stay rock solid

Be down to earth

Learn from the past

Don't fall apart under pressure

It's OK to be sedimental

Think long term

Make a good impression

— Your True Nature

Lamprey

Lamprey

Lamprey

Lampreys may be characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. They use their rough tongue to rasp away the fish's flesh so it can feed on its host's blood and body fluids. Lampreys possess a notochord as adults; however, this notochord is surrounded by a cartilaginous structure called an arcualia, which may resemble an evolutionarily early form of the vertebral column. Scientists have uncovered a remarkably well-preserved fossil lamprey from the Devonian period that reveals today's lampreys as living fossils since they have remained largely unaltered for 360 million years.

Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe Crab

Fossil of an ancient horseshoe crab

Fossil of an ancient horseshoe crab

Horseshoe Crab

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 for more than 450 million years, making them even older than dinosaurs. It has a hard carapace that is shaped like a horseshoe, thus the name.

There are four (4) living species of these swimmers today, three (3) of them can found in the country: mangrove horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundcauda), tri-spine horseshoe crab (Tachypleus gigas), and southern horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus).

Chevrotain

Chevrotain

Chevrotain

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

Mudskipper on a tree

Mudskipper on a tree

Mudskipper

Is it a fish that breathes air or an amphibian that looks like a 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. There are no fossil records for this creature but they are the probable transition between the swimming fish and the four-limb animal (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals).

Jurassic shrimp

Jurassic shrimp

Jurassic Shrimp

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


Nautilus

Nautilus

Nautilus

The nautili are the only member of cephalopod that has a hard shell. They flourish in the ocean 500 million years ago and they are 300 million years older than the first dinosaur.

The first and oldest fossil record of its only extant species, chambered nautilus, are from the Early Pleistocene sediments of Luzon. It is displayed at the Philippine National Museum.

Ghost Shark

Ghost Shark

Chimaera

Chimaeras, also called ghost sharks, spookfish, or ratfish, are found in deep water. They are classified as sharks but scientists want them to reclassify into another group. They differ from other sharks in that their upper jaws are fused with their skull; have separate anal and urogenital openings; lack any sharp teeth, having instead just three pairs of large grinding tooth plates; and have gills covers. Biologists see them as they transition from cartilaginous fish to bony fish.

Chimaeras are thought to have emerged in the aftermath of the Devonian extinction that ended some 360 million years ago. The earliest fossil specimen of a chimaera is a skull, dated to roughly 280 million years ago. The fossil displayed characteristics similar to a group of unusual extinct sharks, which are known for their strange dorsal fin spines.

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodilian

Crocodiles lived with the dinosaurs, and, in fact, they are probably capable of killing and eating the terrible lizards. These beasts have exhibited the same body form since dinosaurs walked the Earth, surviving the mass extinctions that wiped out nearly all of their mammoth brethren. They are the closest living relatives of birds representing a long-diverged connection between birds and reptiles.

Parasitic Wood Wasp

Parasitic Wood Wasp

Parasitic Wood Wasp (Orussidae)

Parasitic wood wasps do not parasitize and sting humans. They are harmless and beneficial because they provide some natural control of other insects. They use their stinger to lay eggs inside other bugs that make them parasitic to its hosts.

Its first appearance was 183 Million years ago. They are the only sawflies with carnivorous larvae. These insects take a key position in phylogenetic analyses of Hymenoptera (the group of ant, bees, wasp, and sawflies). They form the sister taxon of the megadiverse apocritan wasps (wasps with a waist), and the common ancestor of Orussidae (wasps without waist) + Apocrita invented parasitism for the first time in course of the evolution of the Hymenoptera.

10. Crinoid

© 2020 Eric Caunca

Comments

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 09, 2020:

You're welcome.

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.