Triops or dinosaur shrimp

Triops, also called dinosaur shrimp, have shared our planet since the time of the dinosaurs. They were believed to be extinct, until recently, after a big storm, in the Arizona desert, hundreds of specimens of this species were discovered.

Triops or dinosaur shrimp
Triops or dinosaur shrimp – Image from Xataka
Resurgence of a species that was believed to be extinct

A group of tourists visiting the Wupatki National Monument in northern Arizona discovered hundreds of Triops longicaudatus, a prehistoric crustacean that coexisted with dinosaurs and still exists. Recent storms flooded ancient Pueblo Indian structures, unexpectedly revealing the triops to tourists and park rangers.

Wupatki Ruins in the Arizona Desert
Wupatki Ruins

This year, in Spain, in the Valencian Community, they also found three wild populations of the species and established a protected pond in Serra de Mariola, Alicante, as announced by the Valencia Department of the Environment.

What are triops or dinosaur shrimp like?

They are small crustaceans of the order Notostraca that have existed since prehistoric times. Their appearance and anatomical structure did not change significantly in millions of years, earning them the nickname “living fossils.”

They have a flattened and segmented body, with a prominent head and a protective shell. In turn, their compound eyes and ventral appendages facilitate swimming and digging. They are found in temporary bodies of water such as puddles and ponds that form after rains.

Resilience and survival: the secret of the triops

Their life cycle is rapid and they can complete their development in a few weeks. They lay eggs that can withstand extreme conditions and remain dormant for long periods, until conditions are right for them to hatch.

Likewise, they are able to survive in hostile environments due to their ability to lay resistant eggs. Triops eggs can withstand desiccation, high temperatures and other adverse conditions for many years.

They feed on a variety of organic materials, including algae, detritus, and small invertebrates, and can reproduce both sexually and by parthenogenesis. That is, females can produce eggs without the need for males.

They play an important role in temporary aquatic ecosystems, helping to control populations of other small invertebrates and recycling nutrients.

They have existed for more than 200 million years, with virtually no significant changes, making them one of the oldest creatures still existing today. The key is its ability to adapt to extreme environments and its resilience. Its study offers a window to the past and helps us better understand the evolution and adaptation of living beings.

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