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Most ancient animal species discovered

Scientists discovered alive a rare shrimp, believed to be the most ancient animal species on Earth. Two colonies of the tadpole shrimps, Triops Cancriformis, were found in Scotland.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2010 15:33 IST

A rare shrimp, believed to be the most ancient animal species on Earth, is alive and well in Scotland, discovered scientists. Two colonies of the tadpole shrimp, Triops Cancriformis, were found at Caerlaverock on the Solway Coast of Dumfriesshire, reports the Independent.

According to experts, there could be more "hidden" populations of the crustacean - a designated endangered species - elsewhere.

Tadpole ShrimpScientists think that the tadpole shrimp may have the oldest pedigree of any living animal. Fossil findings have revealed that the shrimp is virtually the same today as it was 200 million years ago, when the first dinosaurs evolved.

The shrimps are adapted to living in temporary water pools. When the water dries up, the adults die but leave behind eggs that can remain dormant for years until wet conditions return.

Understanding the animal's unusual lifestyle helped researchers from the University of Glasgow make the discovery. Mud thought to contain tadpole shrimp eggs was sampled from pools around Caerlaverock, dried, re-wetted and placed in small aquaria.

The scientists were startled to find a large shrimp swimming in one of the tanks within a couple of weeks.

First Published: Jul 30, 2010 14:01 IST