Dinosaurs Among Us: Bizarre Three-Eyed ‘Shrimp’ Emerge in Arizona Following Monsoon

by Kati Michelle

With all the bizarre events of the past year and a half, it’s starting to seem like truly anything is possible. I mean, on the one hand, we’ve got Dog the Bounty Hunter alongside the FBI trying to crack one of the most high-profile cases in recent times. On the other hand, we have Bigfoot sightings and Pig-sharks.

Now, some shrimp are inching us even closer to a “Jurassic Park” world of resurrected Wooly Mammoths and dinosaurs. Recent monsoons in Arizona revealed a shocking number of the micro-wonder and it’s something you’ll want to see for yourself.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Crustacean-Dinosaur-Shrimp?

Now, the scientific name behind the three-eyed shrimp species is officially Triops and it’s not hard to understand why. Tri- is the Greek prefix for “three” of something. Then -ops is the Greek suffix for terminology surrounding the “eyes” and “vision.” Mash ’em together and voila! Three-eyed shrimp.

Arizona officials that watch over the Wupatki National Monument region found the ancient-looking crustaceans as they hatched from their eggs post-summer rains. Actually, it turns out that these little guys can stay dormant in their eggs for decades in dry conditions. That tidbit of knowledge comes directly from a University in Michigan.

A lead interpretation ranger from the Wupatki area, Lauren Carter describes them as “little mini-horseshoe crabs with three eyes.” She also discusses how their finding came about accidentally. “We knew that there was water in the ball court, but we weren’t expecting anything living in it. Then a visitor came up and said, ‘Hey, you have tadpoles down in your ballcourt.'” 

Upon closer inspection, however, she identified them as “dinosaur shrimp.” The realization came after she remembered hearing several reports of Triops in a different area of Arizona that she worked in at one point.

The National Monument Facebook page shared this educational post with a close-up of one of the shrimp:

So, How Old Are They?

Well, it turns out the “dinosaur shrimp’s” ancestors can be traced back as far as some 419 million to 359 million years ago. This point in history comes about 100 million years before the first dinosaurs. Still, Lauren Carter cautions not to call them “living fossils.” She thinks that phrase often leads people to wrongly believe that the species never evolved after its origin. That’s simply a common misnomer.

“I don’t like the term ‘living fossil’ because it causes a misunderstanding with the public that they haven’t changed at all,” she relays. “But they have changed, they have evolved. It’s just that the outward appearance of them is very similar to what they were millions of years ago.”

If Carter’s assertions are correct, this specific species out of 12 similar ones calls parts of North, Central, and South America home. They especially thrive in freshwater ponds, which also don the name of vernal pools. However, she can’t be sure until scientific analysis confirms such. In the meantime, birds in the area find them to be a tasty treat.