Triops cancriformis are an endangered species of triops found in only two locations in the UK. They are also, according to wikipedia, the oldest still extant species on the planet with fossil evidence for the species dating back to the Upper Triassic. Now, I’m not sure that that makes them the oldest species as claimed, hopefully if Darren or another palaeontologist is reading this post they can tell me via the comments just how true that statement may be (I have a suspicion that there are older species than that I learnt about in half remembered palaeontology lectures) but they are definitely a living fossil.
Triops live in seasonal pools and lay their eggs in the substrate which then lie dormant while the pool has dried up before hatching when the pool refills in a few months. Triops eggs can survive many years in this dormant state and this has helped them to become popular ‘educational’ pets similar to the more famous, but distinctly less impressive, ‘Sea Monkey’ or brine shrimp.
Cancriformis are endangered in the UK and as they are only found in the wild in two locations, one in Scotland and one in the New Forest, I am looking into the possibility of introducing individuals of the species into the wild locally. I have had great success in captive breeding of some eggs from laboratory specimens already and with a few more generations it may be possible to establish a viable population locally.
The photographs, by the way, are by Corinna.