World's Top 10 Weird Prehistoric Animals

10. Opabinia

“From Opabin Pass”
With five eyes, a single, mobile claw hitched upon a snaking proboscis, and an all too shrimp like appearance, Opabinia is an evolutionary clusterfuck. Although, such were most of the animals that evolution toyed with during the Cambrian period some 505 million years ago. They were all unique in their own little ways, Opabina especially. No other animal has had a body plan like it. Opabinia was a rather small anomalocaridid (odd shrimps), a group of stem arthropods that are related somewhat to the creepy crawlies that we have today. Anomalocaridids ranged from small Opabinia, at a measly 7 cm long (2.7 in), to titans like Anomalocaris, which was the largest predator of its time, at a full meter in length (3 ft).

9. Ambulocetus

“Walking whale”
Whales had their origins on land, no doubt about it. Small, rat like creatures like Indohyus probably were the grandfathers of giants like the blue whale that we still have today. However, Ambulocetus, the walking whale, is a major step in the whale’s evolutionary stride. Living some 50 million years ago in Pakistan, Ambulocetus lived within a coastal region in what would become the Indian subcontinent. Here, this small 3 meter long (10 ft) mammal-trying-to-be-like-a-crocodile may have acted as such, performing the role of a silent ambush predator under the water.

8. Tullimonstrum

“Tully’s Monster”
Living in coastal, tropical waters during the Carboniferous period some 300 million years ago, Tullimonstrum looks like a sci-fi creature come to life. Though it shows features from both cephalopods (with its squid like body) and arthropods (pincer like mouthparts), it is actually a type of vertebrate, or rather a primitive one at best. Related to lampreys, Tullimonstrum was an active carnivore, reaching lengths to almost 35 centimeters (14 inches). It was an open water predator, acting like a small, creepy looking mini-shark.

7. Doedicurus

“Pestle tail”
South America after the dinosaurs was a hodgepodge of evolutionary wonders. With giant birds reigning as the top predator for millions of years, massive ground sloths, and giant armoured armadillos enjoying their lives before North and South America joined together through the Panama Isthmus. Doedicurus, however, was one such giant armadillo. With an overall height of 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) and a length of 4 meters (13 ft), Doedicurus would have been an imposing sight even to the largest terror bird. The animal gets its name because if one were to remove the spikes that tipped its tail, the end result would look like a pestle.

6. Hallucigenia

“Wandering of the mind”
Named after how weird it looks, Hallucigenia is a small creepy crawly that’s stumped paleontologists and biologists alike for over one hundred years. First described in 1911, Hallucigenia was first found as a mere worm like creature with an elongated body, spikes, and what seemed like tendril like appendages and a large bulb at one end. Some people thought that this 505 million year old creature walked upon its spines, with its “tentacles” facing upwards to catch passing prey. Others thought that it walked upon its fleshy little appendages and the spines acted as defence. The bulb was always thought of as either its head, or its tail end. It wasn’t until recently that this 3 mm long mini monster’s head was finally found with creepy pinpoint eyes and circular mouthparts that made its relations to today’s velvet worms clear.

5. Helicoprion

“Spiral saw”
Eugeneodontids are a weird bunch. Consisting of hefty shark like creatures related to today’s chimera fish and rat-tails, they ruled the pre-plesiosaur seas alongside their shark cousins. Living 290 to 250 million years ago, Helicoprion is a long lived species, swimming throughout the Permian seas. Once thought to have not exceeded more than 4 meters in length, recent findings of what was left of the beast (its tooth whorls) give it an estimate of more than 8 meters in length (26 feet). Since Helicoprion was a cartilaginous fish, only its jaws ever remain intact.

4. Ambelodon 

“Shovel toothed”
Native to North America, this ancient proboscidean was the precursor to today’s modern elephants and yesterday’s woolly mammoths. Ambelodon belonged to a group of animals known as the gomphotheres, elephant like creatures with two sets of tusks, rather than two. While the upper tusks remained relatively the same shape and size as a regular elephant, the bottom two were elongated and flattened out, resembling shovels. Although Ambelodon have been depicted as having short, stubby trunks in the past, considerable evidence has stated otherwise. Having a long, powerful trunk would have aided the African Elephant sized animal in eating especially with that sort of dentition.

3. Sharovipteryx

“Sharov’s wing”
Found in Kyrgyzstan of all places, Sharovipteryx was a pinnacle of protorosaur preternaturality. Protorosaurs were a group of reptiles that lived during the Triassic period, a diverse family with many different body plans and niches. They ranged from aquatic predators to arboreal hunters, and of course, winged animals such as Sharovipteryx. Biomechanics engineers have thought of different ways as to how this weird creature could have flown, or at least, have glided. It is generally thought that this foot long creature had a structure similar to that of a Delta wing aircraft.

2. Deinocheirus

“Terrible hand”
Dinosaurs like Gallimimus have been famously depicted as being fast, agile, meek animals that preferred to run away rather than get into a fight. They were the ostriches of the Mesozoic. However, Deinocheirus is an ornithomimusaur that breaks that boundary. In 1970, the arms and hands of a massive creature were unearthed in Mongolia. Immediately, speculation followed. What was this dinosaur? Was it a new king of the dinosaurs; a fierce, dangerous monster that terrorized Asia? We would never know until 2014 when more fossils of Deinocheirus were found. Weighing in at 6 tons and reaching lengths of 11 meters (36 ft), Deinocheirus was the largest in its family, and also the weirdest. It seemed to have a hump on its back, and a face that only a mother could love.

1. Spinosaurus

“Spine lizard”
The largest flesh eating dinosaur that has ever walked this earth acted much like a modern day bear. Spinosaurus aegypticus was 15 meters in length (50 ft), and sported a sail that grew as tall as most people are today. Movies like Jurassic Park III amped up the hype that surrounds Spinosaurus, portraying it as this mega-carnivore that hunted anything in its path. However, Spinosaurus was quite the opposite. It is the first, fully semi-aquatic dinosaur that science knows of and as such, its body has adapted itself to be more streamlined and elongated to better propel itself in the water. Although it shared its habitat with large prey animals like the titanosaurs Paralititan, it also shared it with a more terrestrial and powerful predators like Carcharodontosaurus. Spinosaurus had the niche of mega-piscivore, meaning that though it was still very much a carnivore, it limited its food to fish, and the occasional small dinosaur.
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