A curious list about the eternal

In “The Book of Lists” published in 1977, there is a curious list called “15 prehistoric things alive today.” Let's take a look at how did the past 50 years go for its members.

A curious list about the eternal

One of the first posts in this blog was the “Books about lists” post, and among mentioned there was “The Book of Lists” [1]. Let's look at one funny list published back in 1977 in it. This list is called “15 prehistoric things alive today.” Have all the members of this list survived during the past 50 years?

So, the list:

  1. Coelacanth, a fish that existed as early as 400 million years ago.
  2. Australian lungfish, fish again, 200 million years with us.
  3. Lingula, a marine animal, looks like shell, has been here for 500 million years.
  4. Ginkgo, a plant, appeared here with dinosaurs.
  5. Peripatus, a worm that is on Earth for half a billion years.
  6. Horseshoe crab, the ancient brothers of arachnids, 300 million years old. 
  7. Dawn redwood, a relatively young tree, only 100 million years old.
  8. Tuatara, reptile, 200 million years old.
  9. Okapi, a relative of the giraffe, is about 30 million years old.
  10. Welwitschia, a plant from Namibia, has been here for millions of years, and one plant can live for 2,000 years.
  11. Bristlecone pine, young by the standards of this list, but existed on Earth already 8000 years ago. They are famed for the fact that the oldest-known living individual of the earth is the bristlecone pine, 4,800 years old.
  12. Stephens island frog, great…great-grandmother of modern frogs, 275 million years old.
  13. Crocodile, 195 million years old.
  14. Duckbill platypus, fashionable and youthful, turns out to be the oldie, 150 million years old.
  15. Turtle, 275 million years old.

Who, who is still with us?

There is no correct answer to this question because the question is wrong. The correct answer to another question is — we are still with them! 🥳

In the book “Antifragile” I once read about the Lindy effect: “The old is expected to stay longer than the young in proportion to their age” [2]. That is, these species will outlive everyone else.

List of links:
[1] David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, Amy Wallace, “The Book of Lists”, ISBN 978-0-688-03183-1
[2] Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “Antifragile. Things That Gain from Disorder”, ISBN 978-0-812-97968-8