WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Heavy rains in northern Arizona made weird three-eyed ‘dinosaur shrimp’ wake up from a decades-long slumber.
- Hundreds of the tiny creatures, called Triops, emerged from tiny eggs and began swimming around a temporary lake formed at a national park.
- The Triops eggs were dormant for years until the rain comes and provides them enough time and space to hatch and mature.
Tourists visiting Wupatki National Monument, an ancestral Puebloan site in Arizona, recently discovered some bizarre creatures — hundreds of three-eyed ‘pre-dinosaur shrimp’. Hundreds of the tiny creatures, known as Triops, emerged from tiny eggs and began swimming around a temporary lake formed at the national park.
Known as triops, the creatures were present on Earth hundreds of millions of years ago. They literally, have a third eye. It’s located in the middle of their two compound buggy ones that peer straight ahead. The creatures, also called tadpole shrimp, are an inch or two long and their peachy pink bodies have a crest-shaped torso that tapers off into a dangly tail.
It’s not uncommon to find a few of these guys in the wild, and some pet stores even sell them, claiming triopses are low-maintenance friends — they only live up to about 90 days. But for tourists to find hundreds of alien-like creatures at the site of a national monument is new.
Puebloan farmers fled from modern-day Flagstaff to the region of Wupatki National Monument following the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano 900 years ago. Within the area, now protected by the state and open for tourism, there’s a circular ball court that used to be the site where cultural ideas got exchanged. The court measures about 105 feet (32 meters) in diameter.
In late July, however, these whimsical shrimp filled the former intellectual meeting spot. Lauren Carter, lead interpretation ranger at Wupatki National Monument “just scooped it up with [her] hand and looked at it and was like ‘What is that?'” she said in a statement.
Presumably, the triple-eyed shellfish abruptly emerged in the triple digits due to Arizona’s late-July monsoon. These shrimp can lay eggs that remain dormant until enough water is present. A monsoon’s downpour could’ve easily activated a bunch of their already-laid eggs to hatch.
Carter said she first learned of the critters’ presence in the rainwater pond by a tourist wandering the park. Eventually, she and the rest of the staff concluded these strange-looking shrimp could be freshwater versions of triops called triops longicaudatus. They note that further scientific analysis is needed to confirm that hypothesis.
The triops were apparently spotted by birds in the area and promptly turned into an avian dinner.