Dinosaurs are long gone with no trace to their existence. They were commonly seen roaming the earth around 230 million years ago yet there is not one dinosaur around or even an animal that is distant relative. The same cannot be said for prehistoric fish. There are many fish that are still around since they first appeared on the earth millions of years ago. After surviving the Ice Age, they can still be found in many of our bodies of water today.
Top 10 Amazing Prehistoric Fish
You may already be familiar with sturgeon but never thought that it had its origin in the Jurassic age. Not only are they still around today, but they are one of the main sources of caviar which is made from their roe. This fish can become almost as large as a great white shark. It’s not unusual for them to reach lengths of up to 12 feet. You can find an abundance of large sturgeon in British Columbia. While they are not dangerous in nature, they mainly have hurt humans by jumping from the water onto their boats. They are unfortunately becoming endangered because of overfishing.
Even though the sawfish has made it all the way from the Cretaceous period, it is becoming an endangered species. They currently can be found in fresh water or saltwater and can grow to up to 23 feet long. They look more similar to sharks but are part of the ray’s family. The sawfish can hardly see which is why they use their saw to defend itself from their enemies. These fish are not aggressive towards human unless they are provoked. Luckily, while in the water their snout or rostrum has sensors so it can tell when a predator is getting close.
The goblin shark is definitely one of the most unusual of all of the prehistoric fish that are still around today. With its long snout and pink color, it doesn’t resemble any other species. The snout actually is electro sensitive to compensate for the poor eyesight of the goblin shark. This fish is notorious for swimming deep down into the ocean floor going thousands of feet below the surface. They can grow to a length of more than 14 feet. When it bites into its prey, its jaw sticks out far away from its face giving it a strange and mostly scary appearance.
The hagfish has been around for more than 500 million years. Though with the word “fish” in their name, they may not actually even be a fish. Some scientists regard them as “slime eels” but they are not really an eel either. They have earned the title slime eel because they produce a slimy substance to fight off their predators. Hagfish have no spine, but they do have a skull and amazingly two brains. They can hardly see and they dine on any of the carcasses of animals that drop to the sea bottom.
Is the alligator gar a fish or an alligator? It is actually one of the oldest of the prehistoric fish that are still around today. They live in eastern and northern Mexico as well as in the southern United States. Even though it sometimes gets into salt water, it is the largest freshwater fish in the country. The alligator gar can grow to 13 feet in length and up to 440 pounds. They have scales like an alligator but a second row of teeth like a shark. They are not afraid of humans and have been known to bite them when confronted.
The arapaima is related to the arowana. This fish is considered one of the world’s largest freshwater species. While they once reached lengths up to almost 15 feet, they now only reach about 7 feet. They still are able to grow to over 400 pounds. The arapaima was around back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the earth but are fairly scarce today. They are a popular catch and release fish found in the Amazon River. They need oxygen in order to breathe and live but they are not harmful if they encounter a human. They live off on smaller fish and just about anything they can get into their mouths.
This rare fish falls into the category that scientists call a “Lazarus taxon.” That means that this fish was thought to be extinct because there had been no further sightings. They lived in the Cretaceous time and until 1938, they were thought to be nonexistent. The coelacanth was found in South Africa and another was located in Indonesia in 1999. These fish are not caught to eat but rather a catch and release fish. Even though there have been sightings, they have entered into the endangered species list. They can grow up to almost 7 feet in length and dine on small sharks.
This fish was popular in the Jurassic oceans. It is a huge fish that got that way due to the manner in which it captures its food. The Leedsichthys eats by swimming around with its mouth open. With its mouth so large, it is able to capture quite a bit of food. It is considered a filter feeder which means it swims closer to the surface. It consumes large quantities of plankton and many of the smaller invertebrates that swim towards the top of the ocean. Because it only has to swim forward in order to eat, it doesn’t burn off much energy in order to exist.
The Eusthenopteron is a fish that paved the way for future amphibians. The reason for this is that it had a long snout and its fins were so strong that they were able to push themselves from the water onto the ground. It wasn’t apparent that this fish would stay out of the water, and seemed to use its power more while in the water to move more easily around obstacles in the way or out of shallow areas. This species of fish was alive and roaming the seas more than 385 million years ago during the Devonian period and is a close relative of tetrapods.
Its name makes it apparent that it is part of the piranha family and it originated during the Miocene era in South America. Known for their teeth, the megapiranha grow to about one meter in length. You would think that they would be carnivorous fish but they really stick mainly to seeds and plants. The piranhas that swim in our oceans today are also plant eaters and much smaller in size than the prehistoric species.