What are Triops?
Triops, sometimes called tadpole, dinosaur or shield shrimp,
are a small group of crustaceans that are in the Branchiopoda group that are found in temporary bodies of fresh or brackish water.
Sometimes they are sold in 'Sea-Monkey' like kits in toy shops, they are often billed as "living fossils".
This name is
well earned, this truly ancient group has survived virtually unchanged for roughly three hundred million years. The oldest
triops fossils date back to the Carboniferous Paleozoic and the world's oldest known living animal species is a triops, Triops cancriformis.
T. cancriformis fossils date back 200 million years ago to the
Triassic age. There were triops swimming around in pools of water when the first dinosaurs walked the Earth, and 65 million
years after the last dinosaur took a breath, the triops are still here!
In the time that the triops have been here, the Earth
has undergone countless changes. "The land has gone from a single super continent, Pangea, to the seven continents of today.
climates have cycled hot and cold and back again many, many times. Almost every animal species alive today has evolved since
the triops appeared on the scene. Thousands of more species evolved within that time, thrived for a bit, and were driven exinct
for one reason or another.
The triops have been there through it all.They are, in every
sense of the word, biological marvels of survival and niche adaptation. They have done more than just survive, though. Today,
triops are found on every continent except Anarctica and there are at least 15 known species.