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The 10 Oldest Living Things On Earth

Updated October 14, 2019 688.4k views10 items

This list of the oldest living things on Earth, including the oldest animals, species, and organisms, will definitely make you feel young. You could probably nitpick some of these life forms within a million years here, a million years there... but the fact remains that these animals have been around a loooong time. What are the oldest living organisms on earth? And more importantly how have they stuck around this long?

These ancient organisms have been around for millions, or ever billions of years and have achieved apparent perfection in their environment. Millennia have passed, and they keep on keeping on. Sure, a tail might shorten, an extra tentacle might grow, or they might develop a more streamlined coat of armor... but, like that guy you know with the haircut he's had since high school, these animals have asked themselves the question: Why change it if it's working?

These are the oldest living things on the planet, and they just might still be here long after we are nothing more than fossils found buried in a pile of styrofoam take-out boxes.

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  • Age: 400 million years old

    A rare order of fish, coelacanths are more closely related to lungfish, reptiles and even mammals than to common ray-finned fish. Live species have been discovered as recently as 1998.
  • Photo: H. Zell / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Gingko Biloba

    Age: 270 million years old

    The Ginkgo tree is the only living representative of the order Ginkgoales, a group of gymnosperms dating back to 270 million years ago in the Permian period. Due to geological cataclysms, only three or four species were left in the Tertiary period (65 million years ago). The extinction of the dinosaurs as potential seed dispersers of the tree's large seeds may also have influenced this decline, which is in line with the fossil records.
  • Age: 235 million years old

    Often called "living fossils," the nautilus originated in the Late Triassic period, and is a marine mollusk. The name means "sailor" in Greek. The nautilus is only found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. They live in the deep slopes of coral reefs.
  • Photo: Springer

    Horseshoe Shrimp

    Age: 200 million years old

    This little guy has the distinction of being the oldest living species on earth that has existed UNCHANGED for 200 million years. In other words, he may not have been around as long as some of the creatures above him, but today he's is still virtually indistinguishable from his 200 million year old fossil.