10 Terrifying Animals You’re Glad Are Extinct
What comes to the mind when we discuss animals going extinct is a cute little panda feeding on a bamboo stick. Or the most horrible that you could come up with when extinct animals are talked about are dinosaurs. However, the reality is way more terrible than you think.
There was a world of deadly, scary creatures out there that even the most horrible imagination can’t conjure up. They would, in fact, suit a world of fantasy novels and horror movies. And the best part is that they are all extinct, so we wouldn’t have to bother to chalk out a defense against them.
Here is an extinct animals list that would leave you with goosebumps and amazement simultaneously. In the end, you’d be more than glad that these scariest creatures are all a thing of the past.
10. Dunkleosteus: The Armored Fish
While the name of a horrible fish always brings to mind the movie Piranha, there are far more deadly creatures out there. Lucky for us, they are all extinct. Otherwise, none of us would have dared to go near the ocean, let alone dive, surf or engage in any other water activity.
The Armored Fish was the largest prehistoric Placodermi that was merciless when it came to eating. It ate everything from small fishes to sharks. It fed even on its own kind. It did bear the brunt of its diet later on as it suffered indigestion, which was found as the fossils are associated with regurgitated, semi-digested remains of fish.
The Dunkleosteus had armored plates covering its head and thorax, the reason why it is nicknamed the armored fish. In place of teeth, the fish had a set of sharp bony plates that formed a beak-like structure. Its jaws had the power to cut and break other armored preys, which allowed it to feed on its own kind.
The University of Chicago came to the conclusion that the Dunkleosteus had the second most powerful bite in the kingdom of fish. Fortunately, it couldn’t survive during the shift from Devonian to the Carboniferous period and hit extinction.
9. Phorusrhacidae: Terror Bird
When we look at penguins, we think there couldn’t be any more adorable birds and when we look at the ostrich, it just appears like a fool that cannot even defend itself from danger and prefers to stick its hand in the sand to stay away from it. One thing in common between the two is that they are flightless birds, a feature they unbelievably shared with the Phorusrhacidae.
As unimaginable as it may sound, there were flightless birds out there which terrorized the earth. They were particularly a nightmare for horses and small mammals that were their food. The terror birds were about 3-10 feet tall and used their enormous beaks to either hit their prey with precision strikes on the body or pick and slam small mammals to the ground.
The terror birds were carnivorous by nature and dominated South America as the largest species of predators. The reasons for the terror birds’ extinction are still unclear to archeologists, but they found that the birds’ last fossils appeared during the time when the first humans arrived.
Whoever thought that the world was a safe place after the dinosaurs went extinct was more than wrong. Just after the dinosaurs perished some 60 million years ago, the scariest creatures took their place. A giant snake came to be the biggest and cruelest killer on the planet.
Titanoboa must have been the nightmare of the modern-day snakes as their ancestor was about twice as long and four times heavier than today’s giant anaconda. The average contemporary snake weighs only 10 pounds, whereas the massive serpent Titanoboa weighed about 2500 pounds and was 50 feet in length.
Its fossils were discovered in a coal mine in Columbia. It killed its prey by constricting it to death, but if you assume that it attacked like a typical boa constrictor, you’re completely wrong. The serpent gobbled down its lunch like a crocodile by first slithering near its food silently, half hidden in the water, then leaping over its prey and crushing its windpipe with its giant jaws. It tops the terror with its camouflaged shade of skin.
7. Arctodus: Short-Faced Bear
Bears have always been horrific, pouncing on the cars of travelers near the woods. So far, the title of the largest carnivore is held by the polar bear, but one of the extinct animals named Arctodus is here to challenge the title.
Twice a man’s height, the Arctodus, also known as the short-faced bear, inhabited North America during the Pleistocene era. It weighed about 900 kg and its full height when standing on its hind legs reached 15 feet. This gave this creature from extinct animals list the crown of the largest mammalian predator.
But all is not as horrible as it may sound. Archaeologists found that the short-faced bear was a scavenger, which means it fed on dead carcasses. Hence, if we had existed in the same timeline as Arctodus did, we would have been of the least interest to it.
The short-faced bear could not live further than the Pleistocene age as with the arrival of humans, its dinner dwindled in amount and it had to bid farewell to the world.
6. Meganeura: The Giant Dragonfly
One of the creatures that thankfully fall under the list of recently extinct animals is the Meganeura. It was first discovered in 1880 in France and is known as one of the largest flying insects that ever existed. No wonder it makes it to the list of scary creatures.
The Meganeura shared a few similarities with the dragonfly, but owing to the morphological differences between them, the Meganeura and its relatives are classed under the category of griffinflies.
The large amounts of about 35% of atmospheric oxygen in the Carboniferous period may have resulted in the large size of this insect. The giant dragonfly breathed through a tracheal system of tubes that carried oxygen directly to the internal tissues. The higher amount of oxygen in the air gave a boost to the tissues, so the Meganeura grew to enormous sizes.
Lucky for us, the oxygen levels went down to the present 21% and as a result, this species found it difficult to maintain its body. As a result, the giant insects either evolved to smaller versions or died altogether.
The Meganeura fed on the same food as dragonflies, but their larger bodies obviously meant more food on the menu. Hence, they likely preyed on small amphibians rather than the regular invertebrates.
These extinct animals not only make it to the list of scariest creatures but also made debuts in movies such as Walking with Monsters in 2005 and First Life in 2010. We are just lucky that these scary arthropods did not make a debut in the present time, as they lived some 280 to 340 million years ago.
Like the giant dragonflies, the Arthropleura also derived its life from high oxygen levels in the air. It comes under the genus of millipedes and was up to 2.6 cm long. It is the largest arthropod in history.
A full fossil has not been discovered yet, but partial remains of 90 cm have been uncovered southwest of Germany. Trackways trace these millipedes to the US, Scotland, and Canada. So far, what has been discovered is that the largest millipede body was made up of about 30 jointed segments bordered by side plates and covered with a central plate.
The mouths have not been found, so it’s hard to pinpoint its diet exactly, but researchers who examined the excrement in the fossils have suggested that it fed on plants as they discovered fern spores in its remnants.
4. The Gooty Sapphire
The Gooty Sapphire is among the animals going extinct but has made it little to the headlines as it is one of the scary animals that are not cute like a panda heading to extinction.
It is a rare tarantula that has a radius of 39 square miles and inhabits the forest in Andra Pradesh in southern central India. Spider collectors have given away $500 to have one of the Gooty Sapphires.
The Gooty Sapphire has a nasty bite and moves faster than the common spider, giving a hard time to its collectors. Metallic blue in color, the spider is beautiful and rare but would not be around much longer as it marches towards extinction.
Remember Jaws, the movie in which the great white shark left us all trembling and scared? Snakes and spiders have always been the scariest creatures, but the one who defeats all other animals with its scary might is a giant shark.
The question is, how much damage can the largest shark with a weight of five thousand pounds cause? Not so much as to cancel all our sea trips and voyages. But let us zip into the past, when something akin to the villain in Jaws, called Megalodon, conquered the seas and made the sea possibly a terrifying place to be at.
The Megalodon reached a maximum length of 52-67 feet. With its 7.1-inch sharp teeth, it devoured huge whales for its meal. No wonder that Megalodon means ‘big tooth.’ Lucky for the whales and us and unlucky for the seals on whom modern-day sharks feed, the Megalodon became extinct due to a drop in the number of its prey and drop in sea levels and oceanic cooling.
2. Haast’s Eagle
Imagine standing on the lands of New Zealand with beautiful birds soaring high, appearing as little dots in the blue sky. Suddenly, a bird that is large enough to prey on you attacks you. Sounds wicked? It definitely does!
Not so long ago, about fourteen hundred years back, lived giant eagles that could hunt a human meal. They were called the Haast’s eagles that easily follow the group of recently extinct animals. With a wingspan of 3m and an enormous body weighing up to 36 pounds, these eagles were the largest known to exist.
The Haast’s eagles inhabited the South Island of New Zealand. Their diet was based on a three hundred pound moa, a flightless bird that could not defend itself from its predator. This eagle attacked its prey with a powerful striking force and great speed of fifty miles per hour.
Legends in New Zealand spoke about the giant eagle being able to prey on small children. However, humans caused more harm to the bird then it could possibly do to men. The early settlers in New Zealand preyed on all species of moa birds so much so that the Haast’s eagle could not compete and, eventually, became extinct as its food source depleted.
In a battle with deadly dinosaurs such as the T. Rex, the leader of the dino world, no one would stand a chance of victory, save one, the Deinosuchus. Fossils from the king of dinosaurs and other members show teeth marks of the Deinosuchus, which means that these scary creatures regularly battled with dinosaurs and even won.
The word ‘Deinosuchus’ literally means ‘terrible crocodile’ in Greek. These deadly ancestors of crocodiles inhabited North America and grew up to 35 feet in length, weighing about 5-10 tons. They lived 82 to 73 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period.
On the whole, the looks of these deadly reptiles were pretty similar to the crocodiles today with large teeth built to crush their prey and a back that was shielded with armored bone plates. They preyed like contemporary crocodiles, waiting silently in the water until their meal came close by and, all of a sudden, leaped over it and attacked with its sharp teeth. Their food included large fish and dinosaurs.