Nature & Environment
Hundreds of alien-like shrimp emerge in Arizona
By T.K. Randall
October 14, 2021 · 1 comment
Triop eggs can lay dormant for years. Image Credit: Facebook / Wupatki National Monument / Lauren Carter
A recent torrential downpour in the north of the state prompted hundreds of long-dormant eggs to hatch.
Hidden beneath the arid soil, these tiny eggs are nothing if not patient as they wait dormant - sometimes for decades at a time - for the right amount of moisture to facilitate hatching.
When rain does come along, therefore, the sight of the emergent creatures is so rare that many people will have never seen them before, as was the case in Wupatki National Monument recently when a torrential downpour created a temporary lake filled with hundreds of them.
Described as being like "little mini-horseshoe crabs with three eyes", these alien-life critters - known as Triops - can grow up to around 1.5 inches in size.
"We knew that there was water in the ball court, but we weren't expecting anything living in it," said Wupatki National Monument's lead interpretation ranger Lauren Carter.
"Then a visitor came up and said, 'Hey, you have tadpoles down in your ballcourt.'"
When Carter went to investigate, she didn't know what she was looking at. After examining the creatures, she ended up having to look up what they were because they were totally alien to her.
Incredibly, these tiny animals harken back to the days of the dinosaurs, having evolved around 400 million years ago and even after all this time, they have changed surprisingly little.
The ability of their eggs to remain viable for decades in dry conditions has no doubt contributed to the fact that they have managed to survive for hundreds of millions of years.
"I don't like the term 'living fossil' because it causes a misunderstanding with the public that they haven't changed at all," Carter told Live Science
"But they have changed, they have evolved. It's just that the outward appearance of them is very similar to what they were millions of years ago."
Source: Live Science
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