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Animals By Will Lewis -

Things That Actually Survived the Asteroid That Took Out The Dinosaurs
[Image via Excel Pest Services]


Cockroaches, often hailed for their remarkable resilience and adaptability, boast a lineage that stretches back an astonishing 300 million years. These ancient insects managed to weather the storm of the mass extinction event that obliterated the dinosaurs, showcasing an unparalleled ability to thrive in diverse environments and endure adverse conditions. The key to their survival likely lies in a combination of factors, including their relatively simple anatomy, rapid reproductive rates, and efficient feeding habits. This adaptability allowed cockroaches to navigate the post-impact world, where many species struggled to recover.

In modern times, cockroaches have become ubiquitous inhabitants of both urban jungles and natural environments across the globe. Their ability to persist in various settings showcases their unparalleled adaptability. Furthermore, their resilience to environmental stressors, including the use of pesticides, showcases their evolutionary flexibility. Although often considered pests, comprehending the evolutionary journey of cockroaches is crucial not only for refining pest control strategies but also for gaining a deeper understanding of the intricate dynamics of life on Earth. The endurance and adaptability of these ancient insects offer valuable insights into the mechanisms that sustain life through changing epochs, highlighting the interconnectedness of species within the complex tapestry of our planet’s biodiversity.

Things That Actually Survived the Asteroid That Took Out The Dinosaurs
[mage via Healthline]

Horsetails (Equisetum)

Horsetails (Equisetum), ancient botanical survivors with a lineage stretching back to the Devonian period over 350 million years ago, hold a unique place in Earth’s evolutionary chronicles. These hardy plants bore witness to the dynamic shifts in terrestrial ecosystems, standing resilient against the tide of changing landscapes. Enduring the cataclysmic asteroid impact that triggered mass extinctions, horsetails demonstrated their remarkable adaptability, thriving in a spectrum of environments ranging from waterlogged wetlands to arid expanses. Their robust, jointed stems and reproductive prowess through spores played pivotal roles in their post-apocalyptic survival, allowing them to endure and evolve.

In today’s time, horsetails, though represented by fewer species than in their primeval heyday, continue to contribute significantly to diverse ecosystems. Their adaptation strategies include a high silica content, rendering them resistant to herbivores and offering a natural defense mechanism. Beyond their resilience, horsetails actively participate in ecological processes, contributing to soil stabilization in wetland areas. Understanding the evolutionary trajectory of these ancient plants not only unveils the intricate dance between life forms and their environments over millions of years but also stresses the role they play in shaping contemporary ecosystems, emphasizing the importance of their conservation in preserving Earth’s living history.

Things That Actually Survived the Asteroid That Took Out The Dinosaurs
[Image via National Zoo]

Mole Rats

Mole rats, fascinating subterranean rodents with a lineage stretching back over 30 million years, have skillfully maneuvered through the dynamic changes in Earth’s landscapes. Their survival during the catastrophic asteroid impact that marked the end of the dinosaurs can be attributed to their distinctive subterranean lifestyle, providing a natural shield from the immediate environmental disruptions. The ability of mole rats to burrow into the earth and establish intricate underground colonies played a pivotal role in their post-impact adaptation, enabling them to seek refuge and thrive in the altered conditions of the aftermath. This unique trait allowed them to navigate the challenges posed by the mass extinction event and laid the foundation for their evolutionary success.

In common times, mole rats remain resilient inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, where their survival is a testament to their exceptional adaptations. The highly social and cooperative behaviors exhibited within mole rat colonies have been instrumental in their ability to thrive in diverse environments. The intricate relationships between individual mole rats within colonies, combined with their specialized subterranean habitats, underscore the importance of understanding the evolutionary history of these remarkable rodents. Conservation efforts become increasingly crucial as we recognize the significance of preserving the unique adaptations that have allowed mole rats to persist for millions of years, contributing to the rich tapestry of life on Earth.

Things That Actually Survived the Asteroid That Took Out The Dinosaurs
[Image via NSTA]

Horseshoe Crabs

Horseshoe crabs, revered as living fossils with a lineage extending over an astonishing 450 million years, are a testament to the enduring resilience of ancient marine life. The distinctive horseshoe-shaped carapace that characterizes these arthropods has remained relatively unchanged over the millennia, earning them the moniker of living fossils. During the cataclysmic asteroid impact that triggered mass extinctions, horseshoe crabs demonstrated an exceptional survival strategy. Their preference for shallow coastal waters provided a haven, shielding them from the more severe consequences of the environmental upheaval. This adaptability and ability to withstand varying environmental conditions likely played a crucial role in ensuring their continued existence.

In the post-impact world, horseshoe crabs embarked on an evolutionary journey, diversifying into different species that adapted to various coastal ecosystems. This evolution allowed them to carve out ecological niches and thrive in environments shaped by the aftermath of the mass extinction event. In the contemporary era, the significance of horseshoe crabs in marine ecosystems cannot be overstated. Their eggs, laid in abundance along coastal shores, serve as a critical food source for migratory shorebirds during their long journeys. Furthermore, the blue blood of horseshoe crabs contains a substance called Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), which is integral to the detection of bacterial contamination in medical applications, ensuring the safety of vaccines and medical equipment. Recognizing the ecological and biomedical importance of horseshoe crabs, ongoing conservation efforts are diligently underway to safeguard their populations and preserve the delicate balance they contribute to marine ecosystems.

Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

Crocodiles: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9121809/Scientists-discover-crocodiles-survived-asteroid-strike-wiped-dinosaurs.html

Turtles: https://www.livescience.com/14984-tough-turtles-survive-extinction-event.html

Frogs: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-frogs-survived-the-asteroid-impact-that-wiped-out-dinosaurs-180981195/

Lizards: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/lizards-snakes-almost-went-extinct-with-dinosaurs-1.1266168

Birds: https://theconversation.com/how-did-birds-survive-while-dinosaurs-went-extinct-197185

Fish: https://www.science.org/content/article/fish-diversity-exploded-when-dinosaurs-went-extinct

Beetles: https://phys.org/news/2020-03-beetles-diet-cretaceous-period.html

Ferns: https://www.the-scientist.com/notebook/why-did-ferns-persist-when-all-other-plants-perished-70325

Bacteria: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/01/science/asteroid-dinosaurs-crater-bacteria.html

Sharks: https://www.newsweek.com/how-sharks-survived-mass-extinction-asteroid-killed-dinosaurs-1783743

Snakes: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58559735

Crustaceans: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/marine-predators-reshaped-ocean-life-mass-extinction-scale/

Sponges: https://www.livescience.com/57864-sponges-thrived-after-mass-extinction.html

Cephalopods: https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/invertebrates/cephalopods

Mollusks: https://www.iflscience.com/how-some-sea-snails-survived-a-mass-extinction-66031

Cockroaches: https://www.livescience.com/how-cockroaches-survived-dino-killing-asteroid

Horsetails: https://themeaningofwater.com/2022/10/02/from-giant-tree-to-little-plant-equisetum-a-study-an-evolution/

Mole Rats: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6789728/

Horse Shoe Crabs: https://phys.org/news/2012-01-horseshoe-crabs-nature-great-survivors.html