Durable Reptiles: Five Living Fossils

These reptiles were believed to be extinct for millions of years, but they have managed to survive! Today, they are still living with us.

“Living fossils” are plants or animals that were once known to have been extinct for millions of years. But, then survived the test of time and are now found to be alive. Read on to know five species of these durable reptiles.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle

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North America’s largest freshwater turtles, the Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is characterized by its scaly long, thick carapace, huge, heavy head and meduin eyes mark with yellow patterns and fleshy filamentous. The interior part of its mouth is camouflaged, and the tip of the tongue has “worm-shaped” appendage used to ensnare fish. The carapace color ranges from black, brown, solid gray or olive-green. Adult males, which are larger than females average 40.4 to 80.8 cm in shell length and weigh around 80 kg.

Alligator snapping turtles are opportunistic carnivores and diligent scavengers. They typically feed on fish, amphibians, invertebrates, dead fish carcasses and at times go for other turtles as well as snakes. Alligator snappers reach maturity at about 12 years of age and mate regularly thereafter. Females lay around 10–50 eggs. These turtles can live up to 50 – 80 years in the wild.


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Crocodilia (or Crocodylia) are large reptiles that appeared on Earth around 84 million years ago. This order of reptile includes crocodile, alligator, and some caiman families Typically, they have semi-sprawled posture and have human-like set of teeth (teeth are set in bony sockets). However, unlike humans, crocodilians replace or grow new teeth throughout their entire life. Crocodilians range in sizes from the Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (smallest species) and to the Saltwater Crocodile (largest species).

Like other tetrapods, crocodilians have their eyes, ears, and nostrils set on the same plane. Their skin is covered with scales.Though possessing a relatively small brain, crocodilians do have an excellent night vision. One remarkable behavior these reptiles manifest is gaping or their trait of leaving their mouth open while lying.

The Pig-nosed Turtle

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The pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta), also known as the fly river turtle, is a freshwater turtle endemic to Australia’s Northern Territory and southern New Guinea. These aquatic turtles, which have domed bony shells are found in rivers, streams and lagoons. The carapace with leathery texture vary in colors from green or gray. The nose resembles that of a pig, and have flipper-like feet similar to marine turtles.

These territorial aquatic turtles can reach 70 cm in shell-length, and can weigh over 20 kg. A known omnivorous, pig-nosed turtles feed on fruits and leaves of plants, and small animals like fish, aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans; There are also reports that they eat carcasses including kangaroos and cattle. Females reach maturity at around 18 years of age and lay their eggs on sandy river banks.

The Common Snapping Turtle

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The Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large species of freshwater turtle widespread in North America, inhabiting stream shallow lakes or shallow ponds. Known for their aggressive behavior when on land, common snappers have rugged, muscular bodies, powerful beak-like jaws and ridged shells. Adults can grow to about 50 cm shell length and can weigh around 4.5–16 kg.

An aquatic ambush hunter, common snapper at times lie motionless beneath muddy bottoms with only its waiting for its meal. Its feed on plants and animals including fish, many invertebrates, smaller turtles, frogs, and other small mammals. Common snapping turtles can live up to 30 years in the wild and up to 47 years in captivity.

The Tuatara

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The tuatara is a greenish brown reptile native to New Zealand whose relatives are said to have lived around 200 million years ago. There are two living species of tuatara namely: Sphenodon punctatus and Sphenodon guntheri. Tuataras can grow to about 80 cm from head to tail-tip and about 1.3 kg in weight. They feed primarily on birds; eggs, lizards and frogs.


12 thoughts on “Durable Reptiles: Five Living Fossils

  1. reptiles shops

    Reptiles have always been fascinating to me. For me, they are passionate and adorable creatures.


  2. MaryJane Tauyan

    wow those turtles! as far as i've been to many zoo's ive never recall seeing one of them unless I think they all look the same hehe

  3. Teresa Martinez

    These are really durable species especially with the number of years you mentioned with regards to their existence.

  4. Francis Balgos

    The Pig-nosed Turtle is quite interesting..
    the pig face makes them cute. 🙂

    Snapping turtles, ahh! you wouldn't wanna get snapped by them.
    certainly aggressive snappers.

  5. Jason P.

    Wow it is absolutely incredible how resilient these reptiles are! Some of them even look like magical creatures! Haha! 🙂

  6. Michael Macalos

    I have this phobia for reptiles, and to be honest I was a little scared while scrolling down the article hehe

  7. Algene

    Another interesting and fact-filled animal post. I always learn something new about animals when I visit your blog.

  8. Rochkirstin Santos

    The alligator snapping turtle looks interesting. I want to touch it 😀

  9. Yamito Uytingco Calamba

    Is the alligator snapping turtle considered as an endangered species? It looks so cute!

  10. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    When I was younger, we once had a baby turkey as a pet but my dad insisted to free it because of their beliefs that its malas. 🙁

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