China has nearly 5,000 years of cultural history and attributed to her vast and diverse landscape, it is home to a profound variety and abundance of wildlife. And many of the animal species are endemic to China and owe high biological value. Some of them are even the living fossil species that retains the same appearance millions years ago. Here we introduce 5 of the beautiful ancient species and unveil the mysterious ancient world together.
1.Big-head schizothoracin (Aspiorhynchus laticeps)
Family: Cyprinidae Genus: Aspiorhychus Big-head schizothoracin (Aspiorhynchus laticeps), a special fish of China, is only distributed in the Tarim water system in Xinjiang,China. It is an ancient species originated 300 million years ago. It used to be an economic product but its resources were greatly damaged due to the impact of human activities and over-fishing.
2.Golden Kaiser-i-Hind (Teinopalpus aureus) Family: Papilionidae Genus: Teinopalpus Golden Kaiser-i-Hind (Teinopalpus aureus), known as the national butterfly of China, has the reputation of "living fossils of the world". Teinopalpus aureus (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) is endemic to the mountains of southern China and Vietnam.Threatened by the wildlife trade, the endangered species is currently under the class I of List of endangered and protected species of China and listing II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
3.Chinese horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus) Family: Limulidae Genus: Tachypleus
Chinese horseshoe crab(Tachypleus tridentatus) is a species of horseshoe crab found in Southeast and East Asia. It is known as a veritable living fossil, appeared much earlier than dinosaurs. It lives on the sandy bottom of the shallow sea with a low salinity estuary.
People believe that it has high medicinal value, therefore, most of the species are being hunted and become endangered. Horseshoe crabs are not crabs , but are most closely related to spiders and scorpions in biological classification.
Horseshoe crabs are at risk from pollution, over-fishing and the loss of habitats. Their Populations have declined for decades. They are becoming less common now in China. As of 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the species as “Endangered” based on recent population and habitat declines.
4.Yarkand Hare (Lepus yarkandensis)
Yarkand Hare is endemic to China and is to the Taklimakan Desert, which is mainly nocturnal, and forages on grass and crops. By losing habitat, over-hunting and poaching, the species is rated as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species (IUCN) and by the Red List of China’s Vertebrates. It is hunted as a game species in 90’s century, about 10,000 furs were produced annually from the Yarkand hare.
It prefers basins and desert areas vegetated with Chinese tamarisk (Tamarix chinensis), brush, or poplar (Populus), along the peripheries of rivers that surround the mountains in the Taklamakan Desert. Yarkand Hare is a species of the ancient block of Tarim. Although the Tarim hare is located in the ancient northern boundary, it actually originated from Eastern Ocean.
5.Kanchil (Tragulus kanchil)
Kanchil (Tragulus kanchil) , also known as the lesser mouse-deer, is slightly larger than the hare. The name kanchil means both mouse-deer and ‘clever person’. It is mainly distributed in the Indo-China Peninsula. Being threatened by feral dogs, It belongs to the national first-class protected animal in China. Its ancestor is Archaeomergx, which lived 37 million years ago. Kanchil nowadays still retain the ancestor’s body shape and lifestyle.