PLEDGE NOW
Ancient Survivors

Horseshoe crabs, velvet worms – snails, clams, lizards and more. We’ll explore the world’s oldest creatures. Survivors. Untouched by time.

A prehistoric looking horseshoe crab is bathed in the warm light of the morning sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay near Mathews, Va., Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. Horseshoe crabs are considered to be living fossils because their appearance has not changed since their origin over 20 million years ago. (AP)

A prehistoric looking horseshoe crab is bathed in the warm light of the morning sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay near Mathews, Va., Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. Horseshoe crabs are considered to be living fossils because their appearance has not changed since their origin over 20 million years ago. (AP)

Life forms come and go on this planet. An amazing few have stuck around. Through meteorite strike, that wiped out the dinosaurs, and great extinction that killed almost everything. Through ice age and poisoned seas. The horseshoe crab has hung in there. The lungfish. The velvet worm. The gingko tree.

An amazing few are supreme survivors. Mastodon, gone. Musk ox, still here. Platypus, still here. The greatest survivors have lasted billions of years. Humans? Not so much.

This hour, On Point: Lessons on evolution, life and time from the planet’s great survivors.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Richard Fortey, a senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. He’s the author of the new book Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind.

C-Segment: Viola Davis at Providence College

You can find a transcript here.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Fortey’s dozen or so subjects have survived the many cataclysms the planet has thrown at them over the past 450 million years.”

Video: My Favorite Trilobite

Check out this video of Richard Fortey talking about his favorite fossil.

Video: BBC Series “Survivors”

Richard Fortey takes a look at Musk Ox in this special.

Video: BBC Series “Survivors”

Richard Fortey takes a look at horseshoe crabs in this special.

Excerpt: Survivors

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.

Playlist

“I am a Paleontologist” by They Might Be Giants

“Survivor”  by Destiny’s Child

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie buttons his coat as he leaves Gilchrist Metal Company after a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 8, 2016
Legendary film critic  Roger Ebert in an archival image from his early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. (Flickr / WikiCommons)

The critic speaks. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on how to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth.

 
Feb 8, 2016
Sign stands outside property for rent Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in south Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If it feels like rents are sky-high, you’re right. Some now paying more than half their income on rent. Some say crisis. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #5: Ted Cruz — The Advocate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an impassioned advocate, Jack Beatty writes — but mostly for himself above all others.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment