20 Giant Ancient Ancestors of Modern Creatures

1 year ago
From gigantic ancient rodents to massive snakes and alligators; Here are 20 of the largest Prehistoric Ancestors of modern animals

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Depending on the species, sloths can weigh up to around 20 pounds. But their prehistoric ancestor Megatherium was about the size of an elephant. This massive ground sloth was one of the heaviest mammals known … weighing around 4 tons and measuring some 20 feet long. They lived from the late Pliocene through the end of the Pleistocene. Experts think it may have been capable of bipedal locomotion.

Deinosuchus (dih-NAH-suh-chuss)
We all know that alligators are scary critters. But did you know the reptiles can trace their lineage to a crocodilian species that actually hunted dinosaurs? With an estimated length around 39 feet, and larger specimens weighing more than 9 tons, Deinosuchus was obviously bigger than any croc or gator of today. Their fossils have been found throughout the US, and the creatures were thought to have lived until 73 million years ago. Their huge, sharp teeth would have enabled them to dine on dinosaurs.

Deinotherium (die-no-THEE-ree-um)
This monster was a prehistoric relative to present day pachyderms, and first made its appearance in the middle miocene (MY-uh-see) epoch. Unlike today’s elephants, it had a trunk that was shorter, and tusks that curved downward and were attached to the lower jaw. The critter’s fossils have been found in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, and indicate they changed little over the course of time. Experts have estimated the big beasts stood over 13 feet tall and weighed nearly 15 tons, making it among the largest land animals of all time.

And before getting to our number one critter, we have a couple of honorable mentions to hand out. These names are pretty well known, but they’re just too big to ignore. Titanoboa is the giant snake that lived around 60 million years ago. Its weight has been estimated at around 2,500 pounds and measuring around 40 feet. Its prey included giant crocodiles.

Gigantopithecus (jie-gan-toh-pi-THEE-kus) is the huge ape that lived in Asia up to around 100,000 years ago. Standing around 10 feet tall and weighing 1,200 pounds, it was the largest ape ever -- including King Kong. Some experts think it may have been bipedal. And of course, there’s Megalodon, the ancient shark that measured more than 60 feet long and weighed a whopping 114 tons! Experts say this powerful predator would have resembled today’s great white shark.

Paraceratherium (pare-uh-sair-uh-THEE-ree-um)
These giant creatures lived during the Oligocene (OL-ih-goh-seen) epoch, in Europe and Asia. Along with the woolly rhinoceros, was an ancestor of today’s rhinos. But unlike today’s specimens, this massive mammal didn’t posses the signature horn. It had tusk-like incisors and long, pillar-like legs … which almost make it sound like an elephant … but they were even larger. Based on fossil evidence, experts estimate this animal could have stood nearly 16 feet at the shoulder … measured over 24 feet long … and weighed an incredible 44,000 pounds! That would serve to make it one of the largest terrestrial mammals that ever lived.

20 Giant Ancient Ancestors of Modern Creatures

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