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17 animals that are living fossils

By: Bryan Nelson on March 11, 2019, 10:30 a.m.
Komodo dragons were the stuff of legend until explorers in the early 1900s confirmed that these huge beasts are real.

Photo: GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock

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Komodo dragon

Most people would agree that no other lizard in the world looks more prehistoric than a komodo dragon. They can be traced back to the genus, Varanus which dates back about 40 million years. First seen in Asia, the komodo dragons later migrated to Australia, where they grew into their current massive size. They are the largest and heaviest lizards in the world.

While they are famously named after the Indonesian island of Komodo, they arrived there long after they first appeared in Australia — some 900,000 years ago.