These Modern Animals Have Prehistoric Twins | Summary and Q&A

July 19, 2020
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These Modern Animals Have Prehistoric Twins


Discover five ancient animals that resemble familiar living species, providing insights into their lifestyles and evolution.

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Key Insights

  • 👻 Convergent evolution allows for the development of similar traits and adaptations in unrelated species.
  • ❓ Fossil evidence of ancient animals resembling familiar living species provides valuable insights into their lifestyles and evolution.
  • 🤱 Similar feeding mechanisms, body structures, and ecological relationships can arise independently in different periods of Earth's history.


[ ♪ intro ] Sometimes, evolution repeats itself. There are some classics that you just can’t go wrong with -- traits that are so effective for certain functions that they’ve evolved more than once. Think bats and birds and insects all evolving wings. This process is called convergent evolution, and it can help us understand the similarities between... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the similarities between Pterodaustro and flamingos provide insights into the pterosaur's feeding habits?

Pterodaustro's long snout and needle-like teeth closely resemble flamingos, indicating a shared filter-feeding mechanism. Observations of flamingos filter feeding provide evidence that Pterodaustro likely used its narrow teeth to filter food out of water.

Q: What similarities do phytosaurs share with modern crocodiles?

Phytosaurs have a similar body structure, including large bodies, sprawling limbs, and powerful tails. They also possess long snouts filled with cone-shaped teeth. Additionally, their eyes and nostrils are positioned on the top of the skull, allowing them to wait below the water's surface for prey.

Q: How does Castorocauda lutrasimilis resemble both beavers and otters?

Castorocauda, although not a true mammal, shares similarities with beavers and otters in terms of its semi-aquatic lifestyle. It possesses a long, flat tail and webbed toes, ideal for swimming. The structure of its teeth also resembles a predatory seal, indicating adaptations for capturing fish and aquatic invertebrates.

Q: What evidence suggests that Maiopatagium and Volaticotherium were gliding animals?

Both Maiopatagium and Volaticotherium exhibit skin flaps known as patagia, which enable gliding. Similar structures are observed in modern-day gliding mammals such as flying squirrels, sugar gliders, and colugos. Additionally, these ancient mammals possess limb and digit structures that resemble those seen in modern gliding animals.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Pterodaustro, a pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period, had a similar long snout and filter-feeding mechanism as modern-day flamingos, providing insights into its feeding habits.

  • Phytosaurs, reptiles from the Triassic Period, share remarkable similarities with crocodiles, including body structure, jaws, and even a similar secondary palate structure.

  • Castorocauda lutrasimilis, an ancient mammal cousin, displays similarities to beavers, otters, and platypuses, utilizing aquatic adaptations for swimming and feeding.

  • Maiopatagium and Volaticotherium, non-mammal mammal cousins, exhibit gliding adaptations similar to modern-day flying mammals, showcasing convergent evolution.

  • Kalligrammatidae, an extinct group of lacewings, resemble butterflies with scaly wings, eyespots, and specialized mouthparts, indicating a convergent ecological relationship with plants.

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