Living fossils – white-tailed deer, zebra, hedgehog, flamingo, Canadian crane, aardvark, possum, Indian purple frog.
White tailed deer
3.5 million years is not the greatest age of the species by evolutionary standards, but among other deer, the white-tailed deer is the record holder. White-tailed deer are able to digest not only plant food, but also animal food. They are excellent runners, so they easily escape from the chase, and besides, they confuse the tracks. They are able to dive into rivers and even swim into the ocean. This is probably why the survival rate of this species of deer has such a long history.
Martin’s striped ancestors from the cartoon “Madagascar” split from the equine about 4 million years ago. Today we know of three main types of zebras and more than ten subspecies. They have one thing in common: a characteristic ruffled mane and, of course, stripes. Despite this, crossing, for example, Grevy’s zebra and mountain zebra did not work. Only zebras of the same species can mate and have offspring.
There are 15 species of cranes in the world. The most common of these is Canadian. Previously, scientists believed that it was only 2.5 million years old, but recently paleontologists have found remains that are 10 million years old. The skeleton of the found crane completely coincides with the skeleton of the modern one. Therefore, the Canadian crane is the most ancient bird living on Earth today.
Paradoxically, the familiar hedgehogs have been living on the planet in the form that we are familiar with for 15 million years. The hedgehogs’ needles have become their evolutionary achievement, from which they do not even think to get rid of. In addition to such a formidable weapon against predators, hedgehogs have shown themselves to be rapidly multiplying, unpretentious animals in food, and even very caring parents. It is not surprising that hedgehogs turned out to be such a stable “form” of life.
This beautiful and seemingly such exquisite bird is actually an evolutionary “old lady”. Scientists dug up a clutch of eggs 18 million years old in the limestone deposits of the Miocene. The nest is made of leaves and twigs and does not resemble the mud turret (which modern flamingos build). However, even from the shape of the eggs, paleontologists concluded that the ancestors of flamingos were very similar to their modern descendants.
This amazing animal, reminiscent of both a pig and a kangaroo at the same time, has been living on our planet for 35 million years. And it doesn’t change at all. This creature is so ancient that science knows neither its known ancestors, nor any close relatives. The aardvark has no clavicle and primitive teeth. But, despite this, he perfectly digs the ground, and his diet includes, perhaps, an inexhaustible resource – ants and termites.
Marsupials – means ancient, it is not difficult to guess about it. But not so much! Possums are 70 million years old. They have lived on Earth since the days of the dinosaurs and are considered the oldest mammalian species on the planet. At all times, possums have survived thanks to their cunning. When the enemy approached the animal, they did not try to run, but, on the contrary, rolled their eyes, grew cold, and froth from their mouths, pretending to be dead. In this state, they are able to spend up to six hours. If you look closely, you will notice that some of the representatives of Homo sapiens have mastered this “possum” tactic of behavior quite well. In a figurative sense, of course.
Indian lilac (purple) frog
Before you is the absolute champion of today’s top-list. This funny frog has been crawling on the ground (or rather, underground) for 134 million years! Her ancestors jumped next to the dinosaurs and successfully survived all the great extinctions. The frog’s secret is simple: it lives underground, feeding on termites. And it crawls to the surface only once a year for two weeks – for mating.