From elephant-sized sloths to giant flightless birds that could have swallowed you whole. Join us as we countdown 10 massive prehistoric animals that, given the chance, would gladly rip your face off. Enjoy!
Big game, lame name. Little is known about this massive carnivore save for a single skull that was found in 1923 in Inner-Mongolia. It’s shaped like a massive wolf and weighs an astonishing 2,000 pounds which is over 900 kgs. Given its very large jaws, it could have hunted enormous prey and bitten through the shells of massive prehistoric turtles.
Short Faced Bear
Also called Arctodus, this particular bear weighed about 2,000 pounds (900 kgs) and was up to 15 feet long (4.5 metres) making it larger than polar bears. Inhabiting what is now North America, these huge beasts were most likely big meat eaters, consuming nearly 35 lbs (16 kgs) of flesh per day to survive. Their long hind legs allowed them to run at speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour (50 – 70 km/h) which meant they may have been able to chase down wild horses and saiga antelopes. However, many scientists believe that these enormous creatures may have used their size to intimidate and scare smaller animals away from their kills, moving in to steal their meal.
This massive prehistoric animal is part of a genus of early whales that existed some 40 to 34 million years ago. When first discovered it was thought to be some kind of giant reptile, hence the suffix -saurus, however is was later classified as a marine mammal. Scientists have estimated this aquatic predator would have had a ridiculously strong bite-force. Crunching it’s prey with with the pressure of more than 1600 kgs Despite weighing 60 tons, the Basilosaurus is not the biggest whale to have ever lived, that honor goes to the still-present Blue Whale which weighs up to 200 tons.
Dire Wolves are a carnivorous mammal that went extinct around 10,000 years ago. They are roughly the same height as a modern grey wolf but had a much heavier build. The Dire Wolf’s bite-force would have been more than double the strength of a grey wolf which they would use to hold down their prey, ripping flesh from bone.
The largest species of apes ever to exist were not the size of the fabled King Kong, but they did stand nearly ten feet tall (3 metres) and weighed around 1,200 pounds (540 kgs). While these enormous beasts would have easily had the size and strength to rip your face clean off their diet mainly consisted of seeds, fruits and other fibrous flora. Some scientists speculate that these creatures walked on two feet like we do and so many believe that some have survived deep in forests and jungles, giving rise to the ‘Yeti’ and ‘Bigfoot’ legends. However, it’s more likely that the last of their kind died out around 100,000 years ago.
One of the strangest prehistoric creatures, the Glyptodon was essentially a two-ton armadillo the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Scientists believe that their enormous bone-plated tails were used for offensive attack rather than defense. It is thought that males would duke it out, whipping their giant tails at each other vying for territory and mates. Native to South America, the Glyptodon was hunted to extinction for food and its massive shell which was used for shelter.
This hornless giant rhinoceros is one of the largest terrestrial mammals to have ever walked the earth. These enormous beasts weighed around 20 tons (18143.7 kgs) and was up to 30 feet long (9.1 metres) which dwarfs today’s modern elephants. Existing some 34 to 23 million years ago these lumbering giants would have been relatively peaceful, although their great size gave them protection against predators.
Arguably the most frightening of all prehistoric animals, the Megaladon was essentially a Great White Shark that weighed up to 10,000 pounds (4535 kgs) and reached lengths of over 65 feet (19.8 metres). Existing between 15.9 and 2.6 million years ago these megafauna would have stalked subtropical and temperate oceans, some even inhabiting shallow coastal regions and swampy lagoons. These bad boys were so large they would have hunted whales for food. Evidence suggests that the Megaladon was a strategic hunter, often ramming its prey at high speeds before targeting bony areas such as the rib cage and upper spine, biting these points to rupture vital organs such as the heart and lungs.
The giant land sloth which was primarily found in South America was the size of an elephant, some reaching lengths of up to 20 feet long (6 metres). Being a sloth, many believed that its giant claws were used to climb trees however a later hypothesis suggests they were used to dig enormous burrows – imagine elephant sized tunnels! The last of the species died out around 7,000 to 8,000 years ago when humans first started settling in the area.
Also called Terror Birds, these massive flightless birds stood up to 10 feet tall (3 metres) and were carnivores preying primarily on large mammals. Their curved beak suggests that they would have torn flesh from bone, crushed their prey with violent pecking motions and even swallowed them whole. Most of their species died out about two million years ago, but some made it to the end of the last ice age. Some fossil findings in Uruguay suggest this terror bird may have existed as close as 17,000 years ago but this claim is debated.