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 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, "Coronavirus and San Francisco: The pleasures of the neighborhood walk," 2 May 2020 Damine’s festival is, in some respects, a living fossil. Ben Dooley, New York Times, "In Rural Japan, a 370-Year-Old Tradition Falls to One Child," 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, "Meet Pando, Methuselah, and More of the World’s Oldest Trees—Right Here in the West," 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, "Meet Pando, Methuselah, and More of the World’s Oldest Trees—Right Here in the West," 24 Jan. 2020 For its fifth annual event, the festival will include a touch tank where attendees can interact with the living fossils. Dixita Limbachia, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Sturgeon Festival coming to Clay Township in September," 27 Aug. 2019 Considered living fossils, their circular bodies and sharp tails are often presented as frightening. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study: Horseshoe Crabs Really Are Arachnids, Just Like Spiders," 28 Feb. 2019 State Threatened The lake sturgeon is Michigan’s largest fish species and is often referred to as a living fossil. Michigan Wildlife Council, Detroit Free Press, "Polishing a gem: Plan aims for St. Clair-Detroit River system improvements," 10 July 2018 The lake sturgeon is Michigan’s largest fish species and is often referred to as a living fossil. Michigan Wildlife Council, Detroit Free Press, "Polishing a gem: Plan aims for St. Clair-Detroit River system improvements," 10 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of living fossil

1859, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of living fossil was in 1859

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Cite this Entry

“Living fossil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/living%20fossil. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

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