There are literally millions of extinct species on this planet, but some of the fossils that have been found show us some pretty amazing animals that almost defy description. It can be hard to wrap our heads around the fact that these beasts not only existed at one point in time, but were actually quite common. Let’s take a look at five amazing prehistoric animals that roamed the planet in the distant past.
When you think of a rhino, you probably think of a nearly hairless land mammal with a big horn coming out of its face. The woolly rhinoceros was similar to its modern day decedent but with some incredible differences that really make it stand apart.
The first would be the size of the horn. Today’s rhino’s have a fairly large primary horns, but the woolly rhino had one that could be nearly a third of its total body length. In fact, the woolly rhino’s secondary horn was sometimes even bigger than a modern rhino’s primary horn!
The second distinct characteristic of the woolly rhino is that it had thick fur. This was of course to help it survive in the colder climates that it lived in during the past. This contrasts greatly with modern rhinos that are almost completely hairless, trading the warmth of fur for the added protection of thicker skin that forms an almost plate-like armor.
The nothronychus is definitely one of the strangest, and most intimidating, looking dinosaurs. It stood on two legs and had elongated arms, giving it an almost humanoid appearance at a glance. To help it balance it had a long tail, and long neck as well. Like most dinosaurs, it was covered in soft down like feathers, giving it a rather shaggy appearance.
The most notable trait of this dinosaur, however, would definitely have to be its massive claws. Like something out of a horror movie, the nothronychus had long sharp claws on each of its three fingers, giving it a savage look. However, nothronychus was herbivorous, so the claws were likely used to cut down fruit, or in self-defense.
Given its monstrous appearance, the nothronychus would make a good Halloween costume. That said, there are ultra realistic dinosaur costumes with hidden legs that look just as fierce. Maybe someday nothronychus will get its own terrifyingly realistic costume.
Diprotodon was an odd beast that died out just 46,000 years ago, meaning it would have likely had some contact with early humans. This would likely have been a scary site though, as diprotodon looks like a massive bear with a face resembling a koala. Some even say it resembles a giant wombat. Not surprisingly, diprotodon is a marsupial and was found in Australia.
The strangest thing about diprotodon is its teeth. It has one massive forward-facing tooth on both its mandible and lower jaw. Most of the rest of its teeth, however, were tucked away much further back in its mouth and were used to grind up food.
There are many theories as to why diprotodon went extinct. Some say that humans hunted them to extinction, while others cite climate change. A third theory speculates that human land management including burning down flora to herd game was responsible.
Going extinct just 11,000 years ago is the megaloceros. This beast was essentially a giant reindeer or elk with the largest recorded horns of any type of deer. In fact, the horns were so large they were nearly as wide as the megaloceros was long in some cases.
It wasn’t just their horns that were impressive though. The megaloceros was also an extremely large animal, standing nearly seven feet tall (2 meters), and had the huge muscles that you would expect to support its weight. Due to its size, megaloceros lived in meadows and open woodlands since maneuvering through a dense forest would probably be difficult, and just make it an easy target for predators.
Despite having the word “monster” in its name, Tully Monster is likely one of the least intimidating prehistoric animals on this list. Looking something like a cross between a fish and a tadpole, this creature was only about a foot long but made up for its small size with two bizarre features.
The first feature would be that, unlike fish or tadpoles, it had its eyes on stalks similar to s slug or snail. This would give it a greater range of vision, likely for hunting prey, or detecting predators.
Speaking of hunting prey, the strangest feature of the Tully Monster is its mouth. Unlike most other creatures on the planet that have their mouth attached to their face, the Tully Monster has a claw-like mouth attacked to a long tentacle-like proboscis that comes out of its face. This combined with its stalk-like eyes would give it a very unique and effective hunting method.