20 Unusual Creatures that Went Extinct

11 months ago
From huge prehistoric armadillos … to the biggest land lizard ever … Here are (20) of the most unusual creatures that went extinct

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#7 Horned Gopher
Measuring about 30 centimeters long, these unusual creatures represent the smallest mammal with horns … as well as the only known genus of rodent with such a characteristic. They lived until the late Pleistocene Epoch, in the present day Great Plains region of North America. The animals actually had two horns that were large -- at least in proportion to their body size. The purpose of those horns has spurred much debate. While they likely did not use it for digging, experts speculate that they could have been used for self-defense, or for mating displays.

#6 The Dodo
Chances are, this is the first creature that springs to mind when you think of extinct animal species. The flightless bird was native to the island of Mauritius (mor-rish-us) in the Indian Ocean. Its exact appearance is still debated, but generally the Dodo is thought to have stood about 1 meter tall (3.3 ft) and weighed over 39 pounds (18 kg). The animal was first documented by Dutch sailors in 1598. The last sighting of the Dodo occurred in 1662, when it is believed to have gone extinct.

#5 Argentavis Magnificens
The Teratornithidae comprised a group of enormous birds that were native to North and South America. The biggest of the lot is identified as ‘Argentavis magnificens’, whose fossils have been found in Argentina and dated to the late Miocene. The creature was (conservatively) estimated to have a wingspan of close to 20 feet, and weighed about 160 pounds. Did you know that these big birds are thought to have provided some inspiration for the Thunderbirds found in Native American folklore?

#4 Tasmanian Tiger
It had no relation to tigers, and wasn’t any type of felid. Thylacine was a large, carnivorous marsupial that lived in Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. It got the tiger nickname thanks to the dark stripes on their back. Weighing close to 70 pounds and more than 6 feet long from nose to tail, it more resembled a medium sized canine. In Oz, the critter died out around 2000 years ago. But in Tasmania, it managed to avoid extinction until the 1930s. Hunting along with disease and the introduction of dogs played roles in Thylacine’s extinction.

#3 Megapiranha
That sounds like the title of a grade B horror film … and you know what? A film with that title was released in 2010 (“Mega Piranha”). But this critter existed a long time before that … around 10 million years ago. Not a whole lot is known about it … but experts say it would have measured more than 4 feet long … and had a double row of zigzag teeth, which would have resembled those of the present day Pacu, and piranha. The Megapiranha’s closest living relative would be the Black Piranha, which is noted for a bite for of more than 30 times its own weight. But experts say the prehistoric version had a bite force at least four times more powerful than that … and would have been comparable to the bite of a smaller (400 kg/880 lbs) great white shark!

#2 Helicoprion
These shark like fish are known for their ‘spiral saw’ of teeth. Their fossils reveal a strange ‘tooth-whorl’ that measures around 18 to 24 inches long and resembles a circular saw. Based on the size of the tooth whorls, experts estimate the creature’s length could have approached 40 feet. The whorl is thought to represent teeth found in the creature’s lower jaw. As it matured, newer and bigger teeth would appear to replace older, smaller teeth within the whorl. The creature may have used its pliable jaw as a type of whip … snapping it into schools of fish, and then feeding on whatever it impaled and retrieved. It would have been common around 290 million years ago in the early Permian period.

#1 Koala Lemur
Despite its informal name, this creature was actually a lemur, not a koala --- and like all lemurs, they were found in Madagascar. The koala designation came about because of its physical resemblance to the modern-day creature. About 5 feet long and weighing more than 100 pounds, they were arboreal animals … with long limbs and toes specialized for grasping trees and climbing. Experts say that the shape of its skull was similar to that of a rhino … something not seen in any other primate. When humans arrived on Madagascar more than 2,000 years ago, they set fire to quickly clear large areas of land. That altered the creatures habitat into grasslands, something for which they were not adapted. That, along with other factors including bushmeat hunting and low reproduction rates led to their extinction around 500 years ago.

20 Unusual Creatures that Went Extinct

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