Well would you look at that! Chinese researchers have found two types of rare species that managed to outlive the dinosaurs and now find themselves swimming around in a rice paddy field outside of Chengdu.
The tadpole shrimp and the fairy shrimp had never been found before in China, according to the Insect Museum of West China.
Tadpole shrimp are sometimes found in the United States. Researchers said that they found some in the area around Chengdu, Sichuan province last year, and were trying to pinpoint their exact habitat. In the process, they stumbled upon another rare and prehistoric animal, the fairy shrimp. Both of these species have existed on Earth for more than 200 million years living in temporary pools of water where other animals are unable to survive.
Fairy shrimp look pretty darn cute. Despite being around since prehistoric times, they still have yet to learn how to swim upright. Instead, they propel themselves along upside down with their 11 pairs of leaf-like legs. Their coloration is determined by the contents of the food supply in their pool.
Meanwhile, tadpole shrimp look like terrifying miniature headcrabs. They are considered living fossils as their appearance hasn’t changed since the Triassic. Buglife.org calls them the “ultimate survivors.” Here’s why:
Tadpole shrimps are able to survive in temporary pools due to the unique properties of their eggs. When they are laid a proportion of the eggs hatch, and the rest go into ‘diapause’ – this means the eggs dry out and their development is stopped. In diapause Tadpole shrimp eggs are very durable and can survive up to an amazing 27 years. The eggs can also endure extreme temperatures, as well as transportation by winds, and can be eaten and excreted by an animal without harm! Once these eggs are rehydrated and the environmental conditions are right the diapause will end and the eggs will hatch forming a new generation of Tadpole shrimps.
So, luckily, it looks like we’ve finally discovered a couple of animals that aren’t going to be threatened in the slightest by China’s rapid pace of development.
Finally, here’s the Chengdu farmer pointing proudly to his personal pool of prehistoric creatures.
by Alex Linder
[Images via NetEase]