Although bizarre, gruesome, and massive are all words that could be used to describe many of these animals from millions of years ago, the fact that they are incredibly fascinating cannot be denied. From viscous land predators to rulers of the sea, we have been able to use clues they left behind in the form of fossils and bones to discover amazing information about these creatures, many of whom appear so unearthly that it is hard to imagine they once lived on this planet we call our own.
Deinotheriumalso sometimes called the "terrible beast", was a prehistoric animal that resembled the modern day elephant.
It existed between 23 million to 5 million years ago in the Middle Miocene Period and survived up to the beginning of the Pleistocene. Deinotherium belonged to the family Deinotheriidae which formed a group to which modern-day elephants also belong. The animal had a pair of chin tusks which were curved downwards and attached to the lower chin.
These tusks might have been used to dig up the soil and to access plant roots. It had no upper tusk. Their trunks were shorter than the modern-day elephant. Deinotherium fossils have been discovered in different sites across Africa. Inan entire skull that was said to have belonged to the prehistoric animal was found in Germany. The skull alone was four feet tall, indicating that the Deinotherium was massive in size, with estimates placing it as big as 11 to 13 feet tall and weighing about 12 tons.
These makes them one of the largest animals to ever have walked the planet. Dunkleosteus was a type of fish that existed about to millions of years ago. Ten different species of Dunkleosteus have been identified and described.
It was among the largest of the placodermsa group of armored fish. The fish could grow to over 30 feet long and had an armored face.
It is thought to have had one of the strongest bites and used its beak-like mouth instead of teeth to tear its prey. Due to its heavy armored exterior, it was relatively slow but a good swimmer. A fossil evidence of the Dunkleosteus showed that it fed on other fish and regurgitated prey bones instead of digesting them. Liopleurodon was large carnivorous marine reptile who lived to million years ago during the Middle Jurassic Period.
There are two recognized species of Liopleurodon. The name is derived from a Greek word meaning smooth-sided tooth and was coined in as a basis for remains of 2. The fossils have been found in England and France with a younger species in Russia. Liopleurodon was a powerful swimmer as suggested by the paddle-like limbs. Its four-flipper mode provides an excellent acceleration which is a desirable characteristic for ambushing predators.
The animal was a feet long predator. Their skull was about one-fifth of the total body. The study of the skull suggests that Liopleurodon could scan the water with its nostril, especially if it sensed a smile around it. The signs of Opabinia were found in British Columbia, Canada.
It is said to have been soft-bodied and modest in size. The segmented body had lobes along the sides while the tail was fan-shaped. The head of Opabinia shows some strange features including five eyes, a mouth under the head, and the head itself facing backward. It also had a proboscis long nose which might have been used to pass food into the mouth. Opabinia might have lived on the seafloor using its proboscis to hunt for small soft food.
It was about 1. Opabinia had no legs and might have used its lobes to crawl or swam slowly by flapping its lobes.Because the era known as prehistoric covers the hundreds of millions of years before the first hominids, or humanlike creatures, existed, most prehistoric animals have never been seen by humans. Prehistoric animals evolved in two ways. Early, very simple kinds of animals gradually changed into new and more complex kinds; and the process of adaptation enabled some animals to survive in all parts of the Earth.
While some prehistoric animals died out completely, becoming extinct, the descendants of others are still living on Earth. The best-known extinct animals are dinosaurs, huge animals that disappeared about 65 million years ago. Sponges, corals, sea stars starfishsnails, and clams—all familiar creatures today—can be traced back million years or more. Spiders originated almost million years ago. Insects and sharks also have long histories.
Dinosaurs dominated the Earth for more than million years and then vanished.
Scientists have many theories to explain this fact. Some say that when flowering plants appeared on Earth about million years ago, they increased the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, causing dinosaur breathing rates and heartbeats to increase to the extent that the creatures burned themselves out.
Other theorists suggest that the dinosaurs were poisoned by plants they ate. A more recent theory states that a giant meteor struck the Earth, exploded, and filled the atmosphere with debris for many years. This debris darkened the skies and blocked out the sunlight. The resulting lower temperatures on Earth caused the extinction of many animals. Scientists have learned a great deal about prehistoric life by studying animal skeletons or shells.
At times they have found bones and pieced them together. Often the remains were petrified turned to a stony hardness and discovered as fossils. The earliest fossils date from about million years ago.
In those days, shallow seas covered many places that have since become dry land. Jellyfish drifted about in the water; vase-shaped sponges grew on the bottom of the sea; small shellfish and worms crawled about under seaweed. Brachiopods—a large family of shell-covered animals with a kind of arm used to stir up the sandy bottom and to cause food to float near them—were common in ancient seas.The size of prehistoric animals can be difficult to comprehend: 50 tons here, 50 feet there, and pretty soon you're talking about a creature that's as much bigger than an elephant as an elephant is bigger than a house cat.
In this picture gallery, you can see how some of the most famous extinct animals that ever lived would have sized up against an average human being--which will give you a good idea what "big" really means! The largest dinosaur for which we have compelling fossil evidence, Argentinosaurus measured over feet from head to tail and may have weighed in excess of tons.
Even still, it's possible that this South American titanosaur was preyed upon by packs of the contemporary theropod Giganotosaurus, a scenario you can read about in detail in Argentinosaurus vs. Giganotosaurus - Who Wins? Less well known than the equally giant QuetzalcoatlusHatzegopteryx made its home on Hatzeg Island, which was isolated from the rest of central Europe during the late Cretaceous period. Not only was Hatzegopteryx's skull ten feet long, but this pterosaur may have had a wingspan of a whopping 40 feet though it probably only weighed a few hundred pounds, since a heavier build would have made it less aerodynamic.
Dinosaurs weren't the only reptiles that grew to enormous sizes during the Mesozoic Era. There were also gigantic crocodiles, notably the North American Deinosuchuswhich measured over 30 feet from head to tail and weighed as much as ten tons. As intimidating as it was, though, Deinosuchus would have been no match for the slightly earlier Sarcosuchusaka the SuperCroc; this African crocodile tipped the scales at a whopping 15 tons!
The biggest terrestrial mammal that ever lived, Indricotherium also known as Paraceratherium measured about 40 feet from head to tail and weighed in the vicinity of 15 to 20 tons--which put this Oligocene ungulate in the same weight class as the titanosaur dinosaurs that vanished off the face of the earth 50 million years before.
This giant plant-eater probably had a prehensile lower lip, with which it ripped the leaves off the high branches of trees. Granted, you probably already have a sense of how big Brachiosaurus was from repeated viewings of Jurassic Park.
But what you may not have realized is how tall this sauropod was: because its front legs were significantly longer than its back legs, Brachiosaurus could attain the height of a five-story office building when it reared its neck up to its full height a speculative posture which is still a subject of debate among paleontologists. There's not much to say about Megalodon that hasn't all been said before: this was fins-down the biggest prehistoric shark that ever lived, measuring anywhere from 50 to 70 feet long and weighing as much as tons.
The only ocean dweller that matched Megalodon's heft was the prehistoric whale Leviathan, which briefly shared this shark's habitat during the Miocene epoch. Who would prevail in a battle between these two giants?
10 terrifying T. Rex facts!
See Megalodon vs. Leviathan - Who Wins? Compared to some of the other animals on this list, the Woolly Mammoth was nothing to write home about--this megafauna mammal measured about 13 feet long and weighed five tons soaking wet, making it only slightly bigger than the biggest modern elephants.All rights reserved. The explosion of animal diversity really kicked off during the Cambrian period, about million years ago.
The first animals that lived on Earth roamed the seas. The oceans were ruled by jawless, mostly spineless creatures that look alien compared with modern ocean life. The earliest animals with backbones, the vertebrates, were around in the Cambrian, but they did not diversify extensively until the Silurian period, just over million years ago.
The oceans then became overrun with a vast array of bony fish, while arthropods and insects were making their way onto land. In the Devonian period, around million years ago, four-legged fish crawled out of the sea to become the ancestors of all vertebrate life on land—including humans.
Once on land, animals expanded into an assortment of shapes designed for running, flying, hopping, and crawling. The rise of dinosaurs kicked off during the Triassic period, around million years ago. Pterosaurs, flying reptiles, took to the skies around the same time and became the earliest known vertebrates capable of powered flight. Even while dinosaurs dominated the landscape, small rat-like mammals were becoming more common.
They survived the mass extinction 65 million years ago that ended the Age of Dinosaurs, along with some birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Most major animal groups that survived this extinction event still exist today. Our planet has preserved evidence of this incredibly diversity of prehistoric animals in the form of bones, footprints, amber deposits, and other fossil remains.
By Shaena Montanari. Continue Reading.Toggle navigation. Prehistoric Facts Prehistoric, also known as prehistory is the time period before records were taken. Records are some form of written history so during prehistoric times there was no form of a writing system. The term was first introduced into human existence in the s in France when drawings were found on cave walls.
Sometimes prehistoric refers to the time since the Universe began but when most people talk about prehistoric times they are referring to the time since life began on Earth. Interesting Prehistoric Facts: Although Earth is over 4 billion years old, humans have only existed aboutyears. Life in the form of bacteria has existed for just a little over 3 billion years. The Mesozoic Era is the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and humans did not appear until 64 million years later.
Human life is said to have begun in Africa where humans lived in caves. There is not much known about prehistoric times but what we do know has been discovered in caves. Archaeologists are scientists who study caves and ancient artifacts.
Radiocarbon dating is used to find out the age of ancient artifacts. Radiocarbon dating is only an effective method for artifacts that are less than 50, years old. Prehistoric times are further divided into different eras based on the tools and weapons that man used. Hominids are animals that looked and behaved similar to humans and lived during prehistoric times. Although dinosaurs were very large in size, they had very tiny brains.
There are over different, named species of dinosaurs to date. Plants probably emerged during the time of the dinosaurs about 80 million years ago. During the Stone Age, humans used stone tools and during the Bronze Age, humans began using different metals. Although Earth is over 4 billion years old, humans have only existed aboutyears.These are known as extinct animals. Join us as we travel back in time to discover the sad stories of eight of these incredible creatures….
But these chubbyflightless birds were once alive and well in the forests of Mauritius. Their tragic tale began in the 16th centurywhen Dutch sailors arrived on the island and hunted this brilliant bird. The black-and-white great auk was once found around the North Atlanticwaddling around on craggy coasts — including in the UK — or swimming in the waves using its short wings.
But during the early 19th centurythe great auk was killed in huge numbers for its feathersmeat and oilsand because people believed it had supernatural powers.
Unafraid of humans, the flightlessdefenceless birds were very easy to catch. Sailors would simply round them up and walk them onto shipsbefore bashing them on the head.
Not an auk -some ending. It looked a bit like a wolfbut had yellow-brown fur, stripes on its back and a thick, long tail. Since the fierce predators liked to feast on sheep and other livestock, European settlers were quick to kill them — in fact, the Tasmanian government even paid people to do so!
The last known thylacine died inin Hobart Zoo, Australia. German naturalist Georg W. Steller first studied and described this amazing animal inin the north Pacific Ocean. Living in peaceful herds, they grazed on sea grasskelp and algae. The result? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike! Today, all that remains of these colossal cattle are a few skeletons in museums, along with some prehistoric cave paintings of the big beasts in Lascaux CaveFrancewhich may date back 20, years!
The last of the aurochs lived in Polandwhere the bulky breed died out in Tadpoles swim in ponds, right?What makes something scary, creepy, terrifying, or just so strange that it haunts our dreams? For some, all it takes is a spider or a snake; for others it needs to be an eldritch horror straight from H. Now it can only haunt you in your dreams. These bones grew continuously and as they did, the edges rubbed together with those of the opposing jaw, acting like self sharpening shears.
This four ton monster fish patrolled inshore waters and could snatch prey up by opening and closing its jaws within milliseconds. The only remains of this creature, up untilwere from a fossilized whorl of teeth. With the later discovery of some portions of a jaw, the location of its buzzsaw-like teeth were finally determined to fill the lower jaw. Strangely, there were no upper teeth; so this creature could disgustingly gum and bite you at the same time.
The jaw would close, rotating the teeth backwards, much like a circular saw blade. It probably fed on the soft bodies of squid and other cephalopods. The whorl of teeth was formed as they continuously grew outwards, creating a spiral as it aged; the teeth at the beginning of the whorl being small and gradually increasing in size toward the end. Another fish with an equally odd and terrifying face, Edestus, had offset scissor like jaws that protrude out of its face.
Fossil trackways have been discovered showing that Arthropleura could move and maneuver quickly, undulating hundreds of legs in rhythm to nauseate and disturb anyone watching. These are the largest know land invertebrates of all time and it is unlikely the they had any predators, but it could probably rear up into a defensive posture and look you straight in the eyes.
The famous saber-toothed cat lived in North and South America during the Pleistocene epoch. It was around the size of modern lions and tigers, but with massive upper body strength that it used to wrestle its prey to the ground. It would then use its serrated, 11" long fangs to give a killing bite to the throat or a stabbing wound to the lungs of its victim. Either way, if it ran you down, those long teeth would puncture your skin and sink down into your flesh.
While its bite may have been weaker than that of modern big cats, it still makes for a terrifying creature. This is an amazing namesake to live up to.
It was feet long and had a 10 foot long skull that housed forty These are the longest teeth used for feeding known from any animal, extinct or alive. They fed on large prey at the surface of the water including other whales. This whale likely became so large because it was competing directly with megalodon for food.
It had an elongated skull much like a crocodile and a snout filled with approximately 64 straight, conical teeth. Evidence suggests that is was semi-aquatic, so there was nowhere to escape from this fish and dinosaur devouring monster.
Spinosaurus is currently the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurseven larger than T. While the exact size is debated, recent finds and studies suggest that Spinosaurus may have reached feet in length and weighed in excess of 20 tons. It had elongated neural spines that ran along its back creating a sail-like structure that made it look even larger and more terrifying. Any predator that can move between land and water is even harder to escape when it wants to eat you.
It had a 6 foot long skull that contained teeth.