Tuesday morning (11), tourists and scientists were surprised by a hundred strange prehistoric creatures but also looks like a crab, scorpion or stingray…
The animals appeared in northern Arizona (USA) after torrential rain was recorded. The true origin of these new creatures is still unknown. They hatched from tiny eggs and then began swimming around a temporary lake in the middle of the desert. All this was revealed by the authorities of the national monument of Vupatka.
These are tiny tadpole-sized creatures called triopes. Their eggs can lie dormant in the desert for decades until it rains heavily enough to create ponds and a suitable climate for the young develop and lay eggs for the next generation, according to Central Michigan University.
But what could this strange animal be?
Can you imagine finding a creature so rare and strange that people don’t know what it is or how to act? And so it happened. It is very rare to find triops in temporary lakes and that is why, when tourists noticed these strange prehistoric creatures, the park staff didn’t know anything about them, and there was certainly no protocol for what to do.
At first the people who had contact with the Triopes thought that it was a population of frogs that live in underground burrows and remain there during the dry season and come out to lay eggs only during heavy rains, creating temporary lakes.
As we held the creature in our hands, we realized we had no idea what it really was, it was something we had never seen before.
Triops is Greek for three eyes, and these crustaceans have even been called “dinosaur shrimp” because of their long evolutionary history. According to Central Michigan University, these creatures originated in the Devonian period, between 419 and 359 million years ago.
Can we call them living fossils?
According to researchers, Triops are not exactly like their ancestors and therefore cannot be considered living fossils, but they note that their external physical resemblance is very great to the first creatures that existed.
In general, the family Triopsidae has two genera: Triops and Lepidurus, which together make up to 12 species.
Those found in Wupatki are usually Triops longicaudatus, a specimen commonly found in ephemeral freshwater pools, that is, the so-called vernal pools found throughout America. However, scientific analysis will still be required to confirm the species.
Triops can reach four centimeters in length after hatching, and has a shield-like carapace that even makes it resemble the shape of a miniature stingray. The small creature has two large eyes with a black border and a small point between them.
Triops have a shelf life of up to 90 days, but in this case, the lake that formed after the rain, according to experts, lasted about three to four weeks, and at the same time almost immediately, the birds living there realized the presence of new food and began to dive into the water to feast on the creatures.