A long, long, time ago, before there were people, there were dinosaurs, and even before there were dinosaurs, there were jellyfish, dragonflies, and many other animals that we still have today. While the last of the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, the animals who are still alive today, in the same form as they were millions of years ago, are called “living fossils”.
-In the Water-
The prehistoric ocean was teaming with life, most theories are that life began in the sea, so it should be no surprise that some of our sea animals alive now, where also living in the water millions of years ago. Some, like the coelacanth fish are true “living fossils” looking very much now as they did 360 million years ago. Other living fossil fishes include the sturgeon, lamprey, gar, and lungfish. Other fish, such as sharks, were known to have existed so long ago but evolution has changed them.
In this early ocean other animal life, that we have today, also was in existence. The horseshoe crab, snails, and starfish being such creatures. Amphibians, although not like todays smaller animals, were one of the first things to climb out of the sea. Turtles are one of the oldest reptiles still alive today. In fact, some dinosaurs ate turtles and turtle eggs.
-On the Land-
The Tuatara lizard, of New Zealand, is a fascinating species that began some 200 million years ago. Other reptiles, such as crocodiles, also evolved and existed along side the dinosaurs.
Although many people do not think of them as “animals”, insects were alive long before there were dinosaurs, and yes, insects are animals. Cockroaches, and grasshoppers were alive way back 360 million years ago. Flies and wasps came later, and were witnesses to early dinosaur evolution. Then came the animals many people often wish did not ever come into being, ants and fleas. While the fleas themselves made very little friends among dinosaurs (and continue to annoy animals to this day) ants actually allowed something wonderful to happen. Many species of plants are pollinated only by ants, so if ants never came into being, we would not have the rich world we have. Butterflies and moths also evolved along side the dinosaurs. Many insects were to become meals for our early mammals.
Mammals evolved alongside the dinosaurs, although unlike the massive beasts, they were tiny. Small shrew like animals who were mostly omnivores, eating plants and insects. These early mammals were very likely nocturnal, avoiding the day time predators in order to survive. They were first seen around 125 million years ago. Most early mammals were marsupials.
-In the Air-
Where birds alive? Well, not exactly. Although evidence has shown some dinosaurs were developing feathers, actual birds as we have them today, did not exist along the dinosaurs, that is, unless we are to agree that the dinosaurs evolved into birds.