Speaking of prehistoric animals, it is customary to bear in mind primarily dinosaurs. About their disappearance there are many theories, not only among scientists, but also among ordinary people. However, few know about thousands of other interesting prehistoric animals that lived together with dinosaurs.
Some of these representatives are similar to the inhabitants of today’s aquarium or the zoo, while others are very strange and scary. In any case, they already all died out millions of years ago. Below, we will tell you about the ten most strange prehistoric animals, even if they are not as known to us as dinosaurs.
Useful skills of archaeologists constantly increase their knowledge, expanding the list of unknown hitherto living beings who once lived on Earth. Also, scientists are trying to find out whose ancestors they are, in order to more fully trace the evolutionary chains on the planet.
This prehistoric fish looks like a creature of nightmares. A representative of the genus of the armored family of placoderm is one of the largest among fish. The armored creature with powerful jaws furrowed the waters of the oceans about 400 million years ago. The length of the dunkleosteum was 8-10 meters, and the weight – almost 4 tons. The creature was considered the top of the pyramid of predators, which meant that dunkleostey could not be a victim of other animals. Fish themselves ate meat as their main food. The teeth of such a terrible creature in fact was not, instead, there were two pairs of bone plates in the mouth that helped to crush the shells. Scientists came to the conclusion that the pressure of the jaws of the fish was 55 MPa, which is comparable to the bite of a crocodile. The mouth of the predator opened so quickly (1/50 of a second) that the stream of water simply sucked in the victim. The monster simply belched the undigested remains. Fortunately, during the late Devonian period the creature died out, otherwise today swimming in the ocean could be much more dangerous. Although it is believed that after the Devonian period the dunkleoste has no direct descendants left, one can mention another fish, the Titanichthys. It, however, is also considered ancient. As a result, Dunkleoste can be considered a shark that lived 400 million years ago. In any case, you can connect today’s predators with this giant terrible fish.
This is what many scientists call the first bird, and it is also the most primitive that ever existed. Archeopteryxes lived at the end of the Jurassic period in the south of modern Germany about 150 million years ago. Then the place of Europe was the archipelago of the islands. Prehistoric animals were about one and a half feet long, the size of the present crow. Although the creature seems to us a little harmless feathery, in fact it had wide wings and sharp, like a crocodile’s teeth. At the end of the wings lay fingers with sharp claws. One finger on the leg was hyper elongated, resulting in the name “claw killer.” Scientists came to the conclusion that Archeopteryx was more associated with dinosaurs than with birds. Perhaps the creature was the first of its kind, having initiated a new generation of animals. Dinosaurs received the first attributes of birds, eventually learned to fly, mastering new possibilities of existence. Archeopteryxes also mastered low shrubs, perhaps even carrying out some primitive flights (planning).
This creature lived in the late Cretaceous period, about 80 million years ago. Elasmosaurus in length reached 14 meters, and its weight was more than 2.2 tons. Half the length of the animal was on his neck, which numbered more than 70 vertebrae. This is more than any other creature known today to science. But the long neck was an important part of the body, which could protrude far from the water. It seems that such a large volume of mass should be accompanied by powerful fins, but the fossils found in Kansas told scientists that there were only 4 of them, small in size. The animal’s body was crowned with a small head, but the teeth were very sharp.It fed on small fish and shellfish, making sharp movements in the cervical spine. Elasmosaurus does not have any close ties with modern animals, but is a distant relative of reptiles. If you believe in a monster from Loch Ness, then this prehistoric animal may be the one you expect to see. In history there were extremely few other creatures similar to this. Among paleontologists, by the way, there is a legend about how, when reconstructing an animal, its head was placed on the end of the tail, not the neck.
These creatures lived during the Middle Miocene era, having died out during the Early Pleistocene. This is the third largest terrestrial animal among those who ever existed on the planet. The height of the deuterium was about 5 meters, and the weight – more than 15.4 tons. The substance is very similar to modern elephants, the only difference is a shorter trunk and tusks attached to the lower jaw, and not to the top, as now. Animals lived in the rainforest, and their habits had much in common with elephants. The main food served as a plant, while it was possible to extract food not only the trunk, but also limbs. Fossils of these animals have been found all over the world, mainly across Europe, Asia and Africa. It is believed that it was the discovery of these remains with large teeth and fangs that caused the Greek belief in giant archaic creatures. One look is not a reconstructed image of deynotheries enough to realize that they are the ancestors of elephants. Creatures are also associated with gompoteries and mastodons, now extinct.
Archaeologists hope to find more than the remains of only twenty such creatures and learn more about them. The known fossil remains of opobinia were found in British Columbia. By its appearance this animal does not correspond in any way to prehistoric times. The kind of veins on the seabed, its soft body was about 7 centimeters in length. On the head there were 5 eyes, and the mouth was on the end of a movable two-centimeter proboscis. The body of opobinia was segmented, in each department there was a pair of blades. Most of the time, the animal crawled along the bottom, searching for its prey – benthic animals – with the help of the proboscis. However, in case of danger, it could swim and swim, bending the trunk and flapping blades. When the petrified remains of these animals were discovered, the scientists quickly decided that this species could not be associated with any of the present. However, numerous studies have made one think about the relationship with arthropods and worms. Other scientists believe that opobiniya was an ancestor of the quiet.
This animal is famous for its dental spiral. It is believed that Helicopryon lived in the Carboniferous period. It is believed that this fish was one of the few who survived the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. But at the end of the Triassic period, the creature still died out. Although the remains of the fish remained little, the scientists discovered an unusual dental spiral and several jaw bones. With their help, possible images of the animal were recreated. It is known for sure that he had teeth similar to a circular saw, located on the lower jaw. There were so many teeth, that the older ones were forced out into the middle, creating a new spiral turn. However, new theories say that the spiral could be located in the area of the pharynx, remaining invisible from the outside. Such a structure of the sea inhabitant made it possible to hunt better. So, it was possible to cut the tentacles with a spiral, wound the fish or dig out the mollusks. The length of such unusual creatures reached 2-3 meters, based on the diameter of a typical spiral of 25 centimeters. True, there were also dental formations of 90 centimeters, which gives reason to believe the length of the helicopters to 9-12 meters. Although the fish is very similar to the modern shark, but they represented primitive cartilaginous, close to the ancestors of modern marine predators.
This creature is called one of the largest, if not the largest of all, who has ever plowed the heavenly expanses. Its name is associated with the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, who was known as a feathered serpent. The flying creature lived in the late Cretaceous period. It was a real king of the sky, with a wingspan of 12 meters and growths of almost 10. But the weight was rather small – up to a centner, thanks to hollow bones. The creature had a pointed key, which it collected food. The long jaws were not prevented by the absence of teeth, and the main food could be fish, corpses of other dinosaurs. For the first time, fossils were discovered in Big Bend Park, Texas in 1971. It is believed that, being on the ground, the four-footed animal was so strong that it could take off right from the place, without takeoff. It is of course difficult to compare this huge animal with modern animals. Since it was a pterosaur, he had no direct descendants. But at one time it was most connected with the pteranodon, which is already comparable with modern birds, in particular, with a stork of marabou. They are brought together by two facts – a larger than usual wingspan and a predilection for carrion as a food.
This medium-sized pterosaur lived at the beginning of the Jurassic period, about 200 million years ago. Its fossil remains were found in 1828, in the UK. The name of the animal comes from the Greek word meaning “two-form tooth”. The name was given by Richard Owen in the hope of focusing researchers’ attention on the difference with other representatives of the reptilian family. The creature had two different types of teeth in the jaws, which was rare for the family. In height, dimorphodone reached about a meter, its neck was small, in contrast to the head, up to 30 centimeters long. The sweep of the wings reached 1.5 meters. In the tail there were 33 vertebrae, which supposedly could play the role of a balancing mechanism for walking and certainly used in flight. Scientists still can not come to a common opinion – whether dimorphodon moved on four limbs, or on two. Today, the relationship of this animal to any one of the modern is unknown. Scientists believe that the reason for this is the weak connection of the pterosaur itself with dinosaurs. It is true, however, a relationship with insectivorous anurognathus, but this is also very controversial. It can be concluded that dimorphodon is generally a distant relative of all species of birds with wings.
The first fossils of a giant marine scorpion were discovered in Germany. This creature is one of the largest arthropods ever found. Petrified claw in 46 centimeters makes it possible to assume the size of the scorpion itself – 2.5 meters. He lived in freshwater lakes and rivers about 400 million years ago. Then the oxygen content in the atmosphere was much greater, which was the reason for the appearance of giant animals. It is believed that it was scorpions who first learned the land. These ancient ancestors of the present crabs, spiders and scorpions were merged into the Merostomata group. Today there is evidence, in spite of the size, that jecelopterus is a relative of these arthropods. Only here, unlike their land descendants, this creature remained water, for which it was called the “sea scorpion”. Hallucigenia.
In the late 1970s, Simon Conway Morris in British Columbia, who in Canada studied strange fossils. Later similar ones were found in China. Scientists came to the conclusion that prehistoric creatures were so strange that they could only exist in a dream. The creature had a length of 0.5-3 centimeters, it was stretched like a worm. However, the body covered three rows of processes – two rows of toe-spikes of seven in each and a row of tentacles on the back. At one end of the body was found thickening, which was taken for the head. Surprisingly, no organs peculiar to this part of the body – eyes, mouth, were found.Probably, they were located in one of the sets of tentacles. Recent studies have shown that animals had females and males, the latter had slightly more rounded forms. Scientists still can not exactly understand where the animals have their buttocks, and where before, and how it moved. A hypothesis is advanced that hallucination is still a worm, with legs and thorns for protection from enemies. Some paleontologists generally believe that there was no such independent animal at all, and the discovered remains are part of a larger animal. As a result, it was decided to consider Hallucigensia as the ancestor of modern arthropods, in particular, there is a close connection with velvet worms.