15 Terrifying Prehistoric Creatures
Listverse has an intriguing list (with illustrations) of 15 creatures from the prehistoric era that may be little known.
Asks the site, "Who hasn’t heard of a tyrannosaurus Rex or a velociraptor thanks to movies like Jurassic Park? When we think of dinosaurs, we almost all think of a very small subset of these giant creatures from history. But perhaps more interesting are those which are far less familiar to us all. This list is just a small selection of monstrous or weird-looking creatures from ancient times, most of which are little known to the public."
They don’t make animals like this anymore. Estemmenosuchus is one of the most bizarre-looking prehistoric monsters; it belonged to the group of the dinocephalians, and despite their dinosaur-like appearance, they were actually more closely related to mammals… including us! Estemmenosuchus was the size of a rhinoceros, and it too had a horn on its nose, but it also had antler-like horns on the top of its head, and strange, bony protrusions coming out of its cheeks; no one knows what they were used for. It also had a set of monstrous, sharp teeth, but scientists aren’t sure about its food preferences. Personally, I believe this thing was big and scary enough to eat anything it wanted. Fossil remains of Estemmenosuchus have been found in Russia; it lived in the Permian period, long before the appearance of dinosaurs.
This was an ancient relative of today’s sperm whale, which as we all know (or should know) is huge, eats lots of squid and has never been known to attack humans without provocation. Acrophyseter was the complete opposite; it was moderately sized, and didn’t feed on squid but rather on other marine mammals and even on sharks! Its horrible-looking teeth were deadly weapons and have given Acrophyseter and its ancient relatives the nickname of “killer sperm whales”. Acrophyseter’s fossil remains have been found in Peru; it lived in the Miocene period, which seems to have been the best epoch for scary marine monsters including giant dolphins, colossal sharks and even monster penguins and seals.
It’s name says it all; it was a monstrous ape, closely related to the orangutan, that roamed the bamboo forests, jungles and mountains of China, India and Vietnam during the Pleistocene. It was a vegetarian, but scary nonetheless; it could grow up to three meters tall and weigh up to 550 kgs! Its strength must have been extraordinary and probably kept it safe from most predators. It finally went extinct 300.000 years ago, possibly due to overhunting by early human species or as the result of climate change. Of course, all yeti and bigfoot believers like to think that Gigantopithecus survived somehow in the most remote parts of the Himalaya…
Epicyon could well be described as a giant pitbull on steroids. It was a member of the Canidae or dog family, but whereas modern day canids are built for speed and endurance, Epicyon was built for brute strength, and had jaws so powerful that they could crush bone as if they were crackers! This beast ruled the plains of North America for fifteen million years, before it was replaced by big cats (including sabertooths).
Today’s great white shark probably has some of the most nightmarish set of teeth in Nature, but its distant prehistoric relative Edestus was so scary that it would make the great white look almost cute. Edestus was about seven meters long and was one of the top predators of the Carboniferous seas. However, scientists still don’t know how it used its extraordinary teeth; instead of constantly losing the worn out teeth and replacing them with the new ones growing in rows behind, as modern day sharks do, Edestus didn’t lose its teeth at all; instead, the new teeth pushed the old teeth out of the mouth and, eventually, the gums and teeth would protrude out of the mouth like a pair of monstrous scissors. Regardless of how it did it, it seems obvious that Edestus could possibly cut any other creature in two with ease. But we still have trouble to imagine how a very old Edestus would “function”, or even how would it look!
Follow the link for the rest of the list.