Prehistoric Animals That Still Exist

Have you ever stopped to wonder how long the different species of animals on our Earth have been around? Well, we have, and we've listed down the few who have been on our beautiful planet the longest. Some of these animals even look otherworldly, and some will definitely surprise you.

Image Source: Unsplash/Jon Butterworth

Image Source: Unsplash/Jon Butterworth


BACTRIAN CAMEL

Okay, before you make any assumption about Camels, you should know they're pretty great. Not only can they survive deserts, but they can also carry a ton of weight. The Bactrian Camel is most especially cool because it's been around for so long. Luckily, unlike many other species, these camels were domesticated, making them a pretty abundant species.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/J. Patrick Fischer (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/J. Patrick Fischer (CC BY-SA 3.0)


ECHIDNA

Echidnas are quite an unusual kind of animal. They have spines like a porcupine, beaks like ant-eaters, a pouch like a kangaroo, and lay eggs like birds. However, they're considered mammals, one of the oldest ones in fact. Some date these little weirdos back to tens of millions of years.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gunjan Pandey (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gunjan Pandey (CC BY-SA 4.0)


CASSOWARIES

A Cassowary is a gigantic flightless bird that can be found in Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia. The bird and its subspecies have been around for as far back as 65 million years, evolving and reforming into whatever they look like today. So if you're wondering, then yes, a cassowary is basically a dinosaur.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Summerdrought (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Summerdrought (CC BY-SA 4.0)


CARIBOU

Commonly referred to as the Reindeer, Caribou is definitely one of the most recognizable kinds of dear around. After all, they are Santa's annual Christmas helpers. You'd be surprised to find out, however, that these lovable reindeer have been around for the better part of two million years.

Image Source: Unsplash/Joe Green

Image Source: Unsplash/Joe Green


GHARIALS

When you first see a Gharial, you'd probably think, "oh look, it's a crocodile." In some ways, you're right, but if you look closer -- if you can -- you'll notice that their maws are much leaner and longer. These long, sword-like maws are full of jagged teeth that can rip their prey apart. These beasts have been around for tens of millions of years, but they're also critically endangered today.

Image Source: Unsplash/Tomáš Lištiak

Image Source: Unsplash/Tomáš Lištiak


KOMODO DRAGON

If someone told you that dragons weren't real, then you better tell them about the Komodo Dragon. Yes, they're not your typical fantasy-based dragons, but they're our Earth's real deal. A researcher even suspects that these giant lizards have been around as early as 300,000 years ago to as far back as four million years.

Image Source: Unsplash/David Clode

Image Source: Unsplash/David Clode


TAPIRS

Tapirs have earned the right to be called the most primitive land-based large mammals on Earth. The Tapir, which looks like a hog with an ant-eater snout, has been around for roughly twenty million years. Would you believe that this animal is more closely related to dear and horses that it is to pigs? Well, it's true.

Image Source: Unsplash/Dušan Smetana

Image Source: Unsplash/Dušan Smetana


TUATARA

Here's another ancient lizard that makes the list because they just seem to never run out. The Tuatara is another creature that has been called a living dinosaur because the species has been around for 220 million years. Mostly found in New Zealand, this lizard's primitive physical structure suggests it hasn't really evolved much in the millions of years it has been around.

Image Source: Unsplash/Simon Infanger

Image Source: Unsplash/Simon Infanger


CHINESE GIANT SALAMANDER

Salamanders are amphibians, which means that they can live in both the land and water. This is probably why the Chinese Giant Salamander, the largest amphibian in the world, has been around for so long. They're also pretty old; these species of salamander are said to have diverged some three million years ago.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Petr Hamerník (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Petr Hamerník (CC BY-SA 4.0)


SHOEBILL STORK

Hearing or reading the word stork, we can excuse you from thinking about the animals from that one animated movie. The Shoebill Stork, however, is nothing like that. The goofy looking bill on this gigantic birt is not one to laugh at; it's a pretty deadly weapon. It quite well looks like one of the scariest birds on Earth. They can stand up to 5ft tall, with a wingspan of 7ft long.

Image Source: Unsplash/Dušan Smetana

Image Source: Unsplash/Dušan Smetana


ELEPHANT SHREW

When mother nature was making the many constructs we know as animals today, she was probably couldn't make her mind up with what to make of the elephant shrew. Zoologist calls this tiny creature Sengi, as it's locally called in Kenya. It has a rat's tail, large ears, and a miniature elephant trunk upfront. Sengi has been around for thirty million years back.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Joey Makalintal (CC BY 2.0)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Joey Makalintal (CC BY 2.0)


CHAMBERED NAUTILUS

You've heard of the Nautilus, right? Captain Nemo's ship? It was named after the Chambered Nautilus, a very curious and ancient species that lives in the depths of the oceans. This deep-sea creature has been around for nearly 500 million years, and scientists say they haven't changed much since then. The Chambered Nautilus is considered a "living fossil."

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Profberger (CC BY 2.5)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Profberger (CC BY 2.5)


BABIRUSAS

This is Indonesia's pig-deer. The Babirusa is a hog-like species native to the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula, and Buru. Humans first conquered these parts of South East Asia some thirty thousand years ago. However, the Babirusa, with its unusually long tusks, was there much earlier.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Masteraah (CC BY-SA 2.0 de)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Masteraah (CC BY-SA 2.0 de)


HORSESHOE CRABS

If you want to talk about animals that pre-date the oldest things in the world, then look no further than the Horseshoe Crab. These deep-sea creatures have been on our Earth for 540 million years. If you take a look at it, it literally looks like something that should be in a museum. It's another one of those living fossils, a ten-eyed one at that.

Image Source: Unsplash/Michael Browning

Image Source: Unsplash/Michael Browning


CHAMOIS

Chamois are some of mother nature's best mountain climbers. This goat-antelope family beast is a relatively small animal that is usually found in the mountains of Europe and Asia. The Chamois have elastic pads on the bottom of their hooves, which help them traverse the rocky and slippery mountains. 

Image Source: Unsplash/MARIA MIHALTAN

Image Source: Unsplash/MARIA MIHALTAN


WOBBEGONG SHARK

Now for a few entries that come from the depths of the sea. Of course, we're talking about the shark family. Did you know that the various subspecies of sharks are some of the oldest beings in the world? First of all, is the Wobbegong or carpet sharks. These see floor predators date back 450 million years.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/prilfish (CC BY 2.0)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/prilfish (CC BY 2.0)


WHALE SHARK

On the opposite spectrum of sharks come the Whale Sharks. These sea behemoths' ancestry can be traced back all the way to the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras. This means that giants of the deep blue have been around for at least 245-65 million years, but that's not the final shark to make the list.

Image Source: Unsplash/Sebastian Pena Lambarri

Image Source: Unsplash/Sebastian Pena Lambarri


ELEPHANT SHARK

This is an elephant shark. Some people call them elephant fish, but they get their name from the fact that their mouths take the form of something that looks like a small elephant trunk. Like the Wobbegong or the carpet sharks, this fish has been around for quite some time, 400 million years.

Image Source: YouTube/Pang Quong

Image Source: YouTube/Pang Quong


LAKE STURGEON

This freshwater fish is the oldest and largest native fish species in North America's Great Lakes. They're also carnivorous fish that can grow up to 6 feet long for males and up to 7 feet long for females. The 200 million-year-old species also live quite long, between 55-150 years. So if you're thinking of hitting one of the Great Lakes for a swim, make sure it's safe.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain


OKAPI

The Okapi is an oddly striped horse-like creature. But it's not a horse, nor is it a deer. It's actually the only living species that are related to the giraffe. Found only in the Congo Basin's dense rainforest, there are only a few Okapi left in the world. Their hide's unique pattern is one that poachers seek out often. 

Image Source: Unsplash/Brian McGowan

Image Source: Unsplash/Brian McGowan

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