10A living fossil can be found in the Luning flats. The triops longicaudatus, is a freshwater crustacean which resembles a miniature horseshoe crab.

Called “aquasauraus” by residents of Luning, the small crustaceans have been a fixture of the Luning flats for as long as many can remember.

The triops longicaudatus are only found when the playa outside of Luning begins to fill the small ponds where the ancient old crustacean’s live.

Many may wonder what happens to the crustacean during the long, dry summer seasons when the small ponds get no moisture for many seasons.

Scientist say that during the 20 to 90 day lifecycle, the female releases egg which are covered in a thick shell and can stand freezing temperatures along with drought, enabling the population to survive season after season.

The eggs must dry out completely before being submerged in water again in order for the crustacean to survive. The eggs can last 20 years and have survived decades of natural disaster and mass extinctions.

The prehistoric creature is an ally with humans, as the voracious eaters consume mosquito larve known to carry the West Nile Virus.

The 70 million year old triops longicaudatus is found in the Luning Flats this year, but with changing weather conditions, its next visit is unknown.