Skip to main content
Select Source:

living fossil

living fossil A member of a living animal or plant species that is almost identical to species known from the fossil record (not the recent fossil record), i.e. they have changed very little over a long period. For example, Latimeria chalumnae (coelacanth) is close to Late Palaeozoic genera; Xiphosura species (horseshoe crabs) are close to Middle Palaeozoic genera; Tapirus pinchaque (Andean tapir) is close to a Miocene species; and Sphenodon (tuatara) has changed little since the early Mesozoic. The dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), a deciduous coniferous tree found growing in China in 1948, had been known previously only as fossils in America, from which it differs little; it is now widely cultivated as an ornamental. Note, however, that none of these species is identical to any fossil taxon; evolution has been slow, but not absent.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil-0

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved April 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

living fossil

living fossil A member of a living species of animals that are almost identical to species known from the fossil record (not the recent fossil record); i.e. that have changed very little over a long period. For example, Latimeria chalumnae (coelacanth) is close to Late Palaeozoic genera; Xiphosura species (horseshoe crab) are close to Middle Palaeozoic genera; and Tapirus pinchaque (Andean tapir) is close to a Miocene species. Note, however, that none of these species is identical to any fossil taxon; evolution has been slow, but not absent.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil-1

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved April 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

living fossil

living fossil Any organism whose closest relatives are extinct and that was once itself thought to be extinct. An example is the coelacanth, a primitive fish that was common in the Devonian era, the first recent living specimen of which was discovered in 1938.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil-2

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved April 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

living fossil

living fossil An organism that has persisted, essentially unchanged, since its first appearance. For example, Lingula (a brachiopod) has remained much the same since Ordovician times and Sphenodon (tuatara) since the early Mesozoic.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil

"living fossil." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved April 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/living-fossil

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.