Shrimp in China – level 3
These north China plains are normally used to getting less than 40 millimetres of rain a year, but flooded by recent downpours, an unusual creature has been discovered.
This is the tadpole shrimp. Considered a living fossil, the tadpole shrimp species is over 200 million years old.
“I’ve been living here for 37 years. In all those years, I saw such ponds for only three or four times. There was no water most of the time.”
Living on microbes in the water and preying on small animals, tadpole shrimps only live for 90 days, but their eggs can survive in the right conditions like these dry riverbeds for 25 years, hatching in just a matter of days once the ponds and lakes they live in flood again.
Whilst they are a rare find in these parts, in some areas of California, they are so numerous that they are considered a pest, as they move the sediment, preventing light from reaching seedlings.
Difficult words: downpour (a lot of rain which falls in a short time), creature (animal), living fossil (an animal which is so old it is very unusual), prey (hunt and eat), hatch (to get out of the egg), pest (small animal which destroys crops and food), seedling (young plant).
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