Homo sapiens is the dominant species on Earth. However, we have held this position for a relatively short period of time.
In this article, you will discover extinct animals that were bigger and scarier versions of the ones we know today.
1. Andrewsarchus, the giant wolf
Andrewsarchus lived during the Eocene Epoch, about 45 to 36 million years ago, and was a giant carnivorous mammal, reaching 1.8 meters (6 feet) in height and 3.6 meters (12 feet) in length.
According to paleontologists, this animal could have weighed up to 1.8 metric tons (3,968 pounds), being the largest predator among land mammals.
2. Meganeura, the giant dragonfly
Meganeura were huge dragonfly-like insects, with wings that reached up to 66 centimeters (2.16 feet), making them one of the largest flying predatory insects in the history of the world.
They lived during the Carboniferous period, 300 million years ago, and their diet consisted mainly of other insects and small amphibians.
3. Deinosuchus, the giant crocodile
Deinosuchus is an extinct animal similar to modern alligators and crocodiles that lived between 80 and 73 million years ago, during the Cretaceous.
Measuring up to 12 meters (40 feet) in length and weighing up to 6.5 metric tons (14,330 pounds), this giant crocodile had large, sharp teeth, capable of killing and eating sea turtles, fish, and even large dinosaurs.
4. Dunkleosteus, the giant fish
Dunkleosteus was a large carnivorous fish, which lived about 380 to 360 million years ago, during the Late Devonian period.
It was an efficient and voracious predator thanks to its size that reached up to 10 meters (37 feet) and a weight of almost 4 metric tons (8,818 pounds).
Its head and chest were covered with articulated armored plates, which made it a slow but very powerful swimmer.
5. Arthropleura, the giant centipede
Arthropleura was the largest species of invertebrate of all time. It lived from 340 to 280 million years ago, from the lower Carboniferous Period to the lower Permian Period, in today’s North America.
Despite its huge size of almost 2 meters (6.5 feet), Arthropleura was not a predator, but a plant-eating herbivore.
6. Arctodus, the giant bear
Arctodus, or short-faced bear, is a type of extinct bear that inhabited North America during the Pleistocene.
This animal is one of the most recent creatures on the list, as it roamed the Earth until 11,000 years ago.
Despite this, its size is worthy of prehistoric animals, reaching up to 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) in height when standing, and weighing more than 1 metric ton (2204 pounds).
Like many other large Pleistocene animals, the short-faced bear lost much of its food supply with the arrival of humans in the Americas.
7. Megalodon, the giant shark
Megalodon is an extinct species of giant shark that lived between 28 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Early Miocene to the Pliocene. Its name means “big tooth”, and we can imagine why.
Thanks to its incredible size of up to 18 meters (59 feet), it is considered one of the largest and most powerful predators that have ever existed on Earth.
It could weigh up to 65 metric tons (143,000 pounds), looked like a giant, more terrifying version of the modern great white shark, and could be found worldwide.
8. Titanoboa, the giant snake
Currently, the largest snake on Earth is the green anaconda, with a size of 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 feet) and 180 to 250 kilograms (400 to 550 pounds) in weight.
However, 58 million years ago, during the Paleocene, the extinct Titanoboa snakes roamed the Earth, being the largest and heaviest snake ever discovered.
Researchers estimate that the Titanoboa could have a total length of 12 meters (40 feet) and weighed around 1.1 metric tons (2,425 pounds). Their diet generally consisted of crocodiles and turtles.
9. Phorusrhacidae, the giant bird
Most birds that do not fly, like the ostrich or the penguin, are harmless to humans. However, Phorusrhacidae, also known as “terror bird”, is an extinct genus of large carnivorous birds.
They were one of the largest predators in South America during the Cenozoic, some 62 million years ago, in addition to being the largest non-flying predator bird that has ever existed, up to 3 meters in height (9.8 feet), and weighing up to 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds).
Their diet consisted of mammals and marsupials that are currently extinct.
10. Cameroceras, the giant squid
Cameroceras was an ancient and giant ancestor of modern squids and octopus, and lived during the Ordovician, 470 to 460 million years ago,
The most distinctive features of this mollusk were the huge cone-like shell and tentacles, which they used to catch fish and other sea creatures.
They weighed around 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds), and their size estimates range from 6 to 12 meters (20 to 40 feet).
11. Carbonemys, the giant turtle
Carbonemys is an extinct giant turtle that lived about 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene. This means that they survived the mass extinction (KT extinction event) that killed most of the dinosaurs.
This turtle was carnivorous and had massive jaws, powerful enough to eat large animals like crocodiles.
A fossil found in Colombia suggests that its shell measured about 1.72 meters (5.64 feet), but its entire body was 3 meters (10 feet) long and weighed around 453 kilograms (1,000 pounds).
12. Argentavis magnificens, the giant condor
Argentavis magnificens was the largest flying bird that has ever existed.
These animals had a wingspan between 5.8 to 7 meters, and an amazing height of 1.5 to 1.8 meters (4.9 to 5.9 feet), and a weight of 110 kilograms (242 pounds).
Due to its weight, this species had less aerodynamics for predatory flights than other birds. For this reason, Argentavis preferred to scavenge for carrion.