living fossil

noun

Definition of living fossil

: an organism (such as a horseshoe crab or a ginkgo tree) that has remained essentially unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct

Examples of living fossil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Today’s Vampyroteuthis has sometimes been called a living fossil, the assumption being that these cephalopods found a cozy home in deep, oxygen-poor waters and stayed there in a cozy niche, eating detritus that falls from above, since the Jurassic. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Aug. 2022 Coelacanths tend to live in the same areas where the fishermen try to snag sharks with gill-nets and often snag the living fossil fish in the process. Mike Wehner, BGR, 21 May 2021 The past few years have been exciting times for companies like Ginkgo (named after a dinosaur-era tree that’s a living fossil) that work in the emerging field of synthetic biology. Amy Feldman, Forbes, 11 May 2021 The Ginkgo tree is a living fossil, with the earliest leaf fossils dating from 270 million years ago. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 23 Oct. 2020 The tour passes by some living fossils — a Wollemi pine from Australia and a dawn redwood, which is an example of a tree that was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1941. Carl Nolte, SFChronicle.com, 2 May 2020 Damine’s festival is, in some respects, a living fossil. Ben Dooley, New York Times, 13 Apr. 2020 But there’s an even older species—a living fossil dating back to the Miocene (23 to 5 million years ago) that is Oregon’s official state fossil: dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). Heather Arndt Anderson, Sunset Magazine, 11 Feb. 2020 Another Living Fossil: Gingko, the Maidenhair Tree Speaking of living fossils, gingko (Gingko biloba) is the only surviving member of the entire Gingkophyta plant division—all of its kin are long extinct. Heather Arndt Anderson, Sunset Magazine, 24 Jan. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'living fossil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of living fossil

1859, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for living fossil

Time Traveler

The first known use of living fossil was in 1859

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Dictionary Entries Near living fossil

living embodiment

living fossil

living language

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Statistics for living fossil

Last Updated

3 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Living fossil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/living%20fossil. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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