What are the strangest prehistoric creatures you can recall? Is the Helicoprion one of them? How about the Glyptodon. It’s difficult to imagine, but there was once a time where our planet was host to a wilder, more dangerous, and by far scarier place. Modern day’s toughest predators such as the great white shark, tiger, bear, and lion look feeble in comparison to some of the hulking beasts which terrorized the planet back then. From a bird with a wingspan over 40 feet to an ocean predator with teeth so plentiful they hung out of its mouth like massive scissors, prehistoric animals were simultaneously strange looking and terrifying. Today, we will show you some of the strangest, scariest, and most bizarre creatures, even by the standard of their own times. These are 25 strangest prehistoric creatures to rule the Earth.
Rodhocetus gives us a clear example of a species’ evolutionary transition from land-dweller to sea-farer. One of the best-known animals in the Cetacea infraorder (which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises), Rodhocetus had short limbs ending in webbed hands and feet. Its characteristics closely resemble those of land mammals, thus leading scientists to conclude it was part-way along the evolutionary transition from land to sea.
Made popular by the Smithsonian Channel TV Show, Titanoboa is simultaneously the largest, heaviest, and longest snake known to man. Appearing during the Paleocene age just after the extinction of dinosaurs, Titanoboa was so muscular it crushed its gigantic prey to death with massive force. Its discovery was especially important as it showed Earth’s tropical areas were likely warmer than we expected.
A combination of two of humans’ biggest fears – alligators and scorpions – Eurypterid was like a scorpion which, from one found fossil, could reach the size of an alligator. Primarily an ocean-dweller, this creature was not a true scorpion. Found all over the world, Eurypterid finally went extinct during the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252.17 million years ago. Most only grew up to 8 inches (20 cm) long, but the infamous subspecies Jaekelopterus was bigger, making it the largest arthropod yet discovered.
Pterodaustro is one of the best known pterosaurs (flying reptiles) in the world. Found in South America, the Pterodaustro notably used a thousand bristle-like teeth protruding from its lower jaw to filter plankton and small crustaceans as it waded through shallow pools. The bill with teeth accounted for up to 85% of its head.
If you get scared by a wasp or a bee, you wouldn’t have fared too well in prehistoric times. Meganeura (the name sounds big enough) was prehistoric time’s massive dragonfly. With a tip-to-tip wingspan up to 2.5 feet (75 cm), Meganeura was large enough to devour frogs and small amphibians and is the largest known flying insect species.
About the size of a VW Bug, the Glyptodon was an armadillo-like creature which actually would be more related to modern-day turtles. Sporting over 1 inch-thick (2.5 cm) scales, the Glyptodon was a herbivore and, unlike turtles, could not retract its head; instead, it had a bone-like cap on its head.
Translated from Greek to mean “crowned crocodile”, Estemmenosuchus is quite a strange looking prehistoric creature. Though it looked like a hippo-rhino mix, this creature had distinctive knob-like horns on the sides of its head (and, in some species, on the top and on the jawbone). Thankfully, it was primarily a herbivore.
Though it looked like a squished (though terrifying) sardine, Dunkleosteus holds the record for the strongest bite of any animal, living or extinct. Able to fit a human in its mouth with one chomp, this bizarre prehistoric creature ruled the seas for 20 million years, leaving destruction in its wake. A pure carnivore, Dunkleosteus could weigh as much as an elephant and reach up to 33 feet (10 m) in length.
If you’ve ever experienced whiplash, you can imagine how tough a life this plesiosaur had. With a body which was mostly neck, Elasmosaurus was originally put together by paleontologists the wrong way: with a short neck and elongated tail. (It was also originally depicted as having a flexible, snake-like neck which has since been refuted.) Measuring about 46 feet (14 m), Elasmosaurus prowled the oceans at a length of nearly four Mini Coopers end-to-end.
Dunkleosteus may have been big, but Helicoprion holds this list’s top spot for most bizarre, sea-dwelling prehistoric creature. Helicoprion was an ancient shark-like fish with a modified jaw: its lower palate was a circular saw of teeth which could tear flesh from bone, grinding the flesh against its top teeth.
Diprotodon Optatum is the largest known marsupial (mammal with a pouch) to have ever existed. About the size of a hippopotamus and comparable to a wombat with saggier skin, Diprotodon Optatum lived in Australia during the Pleistocene period and may have run across our relatively-near indigenous ancestors.
Longisquama is a lizard-like creature with what appears to be hockey sticks longer than its whole body jutting out of its back. Paleontologists know little about this reptile found in Central Asia and a long-standing debate continues on whether Longisquama was a prehistoric bird or something else entirely.
With the ability to glide similar to delta-winged (triangle-shaped) aircraft, Sharovipteryx was a master of long-distance travel. Found in Kazakhstan, this one-foot-long (30 cm) prehistoric creature had membranes attached above and below its hind legs which provided for gliding (but not flight).
A legendary creature possibly referred to as the serpent god in Aztec mythology, Quetzalcoatlus was as tall as a giraffe while roaming on its feet. Once it took to the sky, its wingspan was from 30-40 feet (10-12 m) – that’s as long as most buildings in Paris are high. A lizard-like creature, Quetzalcoatlus may also have been what our ancestors referred to as dragons.
The T-Rex pales in comparison to the massive but lesser-known Spinosaurus. Reaching up to 59 feet (18 m) long, this prehistoric beast could weigh more than a semi-truck and the webbed spines on its back could have easily reached the height of a basketball player. Spinosaurus’s alligator-like mouth likely means it was a major fish eater and spent much time in the water. Makes us wonder whether those back spines could have been used for swimming.
25 Strangest Prehistoric Creatures To Rule The Earth