MNN Galleries

17 animals that are living fossils

By: Bryan Nelson on March 11, 2019, 10:30 a.m.
Tuatara are prehistoric reptiles that have barely changed at all.

Photo: Honey Cloverz/Shutterstock

6 of 19


They may look like lizards, but tuataras are actually part of a different order called Sphenodontia. Only two species of tuatara exist today, and they have much the same form as ancient ancestors that thrived 200 million years ago. These reptiles are truly prehistoric.

There are tuataras alive today that are well over 100 years old, and some experts believe they could live to be more than 200 years old under the right conditions.

Unfortunately, these amazing creatures are endangered, and can be found only on small islands off the coast of New Zealand.