Top 10 Creepiest Extinct ANIMALS You WON'T BELIEVE Existed
Long before man took Earth as his own, it was ruled by prehistoric beasts. While we tend to gravitate towards dinosaurs when discussing the natural prehistory of our world, we shouldn’t overlook a creature just because it’s… well…odd looking. In this Archive, we’re jumping in a wormhole, back to the age of giants to find the ten creepiest prehistoric creatures.
Do you typically cringe when you see a small cockroach skittering across your floor? Are you bothered by a common insect that, depending on the species, can grow to only 3.8 inches or about 9.7 centimeters? Then be happy that you weren’t around about 100 million years ago when 18-inch or 45-centimeter cockroaches roamed the Earth. According to research into these oversized creeps, giant prehistoric cockroaches shared similarities to praying mantids. A long neck and long legs were incredibly useful for this far more predatory creature of the Cretaceous Period.
As the name implies, the Hallucigenia makes you feel like you're hallucinating just by looking at it. This Cambrian lobopodian worm is believed to either be an ancestor of the velvet worm or an early form of the common arthropod. The alien-like tubular life form grows up to 1.4 inches or about 3.5 centimeters and sports up to eight pairs of thin legs and claws. This unusual creature was first mentioned in 1911 Charles Doolittle Walcott and is described as having an elongated head, tentacles used either for feeding or walking assistance, and spines along its back for protection.
Like the Anomalocaris, the Opabinia was an early form of the arthropod, equipped with a strange facial feature. Originally thought similar in appearance to crustaceans, the Opabinia actually differed in the most important feature – it lacked a hard outer shell. The soft-bodied bottom dweller, believed to have existed during the mid-Cambrian period in British Columbia, served as a stepping stone to modern arthropods, sported a 1-inch or 2 1/2 centimeter proboscis used to sift through the seabed for food, and typically grew to only 3 inches or 7.6 centimeters long.
With a wingspan of up to 28 inches or roughly 71 centimeters, the Meganeuropsis Permiana, a member of the Meganisoptera order, is among the largest insect species to date. The early Permian griffinfly was indigenous to North America and grew up to 17 inches or about 43 centimeters, dwarfing the common dragonfly of today, which only grows to about 4 inches or about 10 centimeters. As if its relatively larger size wasn’t bad enough, the Meganeuropsis was also a carnivore, though its diet consisted mostly of members of the insect family.
Some 358 to 416 million years ago, during the Devonian Period, lived what scientists are calling a proto-spider. As if the eight-legged critters weren’t bad enough as is, this prehistoric spider-like animal sports an entirely new feature that adds to the mystique, wonder and creepiness – a 1 millimeter long tail-like flagella that serves no recorded purpose. Instead of spinning webs like our modern-day arachnids, the Attercopus would drag glands on the underside of its abdomen across a surface to produce silk-strand, which were believed to be used to wrap eggs or construct burrow walls.
Everything about the Anomalocaris’ body looks to be pretty normal for an early relative of the arthropod, but things go incredibly wrong when you get to its head. The flat body gives way to a set of creepy-looking, 7-inch or roughly 18-centimeter long prongs, appendages that resemble the tail of a shrimp. With these limbs, the Anomalocaris would hold its prey in place while its squared set of sharpened teeth would chomp away. At its longest, the odd-looking anomalocaridid averaged around 3-feet or about 1-meter long, but specimens from China, found in early to mid-Cambrian rock, were found to have reached twice that length.
The concept of creepy crawly fleas is enough to make your skin itch, but imagine living some 65 to 140 million years ago, when our tiny nuisance, now about .1 inch or 3 millimeters in size, was upwards of almost 1-inch or 25 millimeters long. While that may not sound large in the grand scheme, consider an infestation of fleas longer than a quarter’s diameter, feeding off of your personal blood supply. Living during the Cretaceous Period, these giant fleas, which were discovered via fossils found in China in 2012, feasted on dinosaurs and though they share similarities to the modern flea, they lacked the springing jump ability and were equipped with an armored, jagged protrusion for feeding rather than a smooth-edged jaw.
During the early Ordovician era, the sea was filled with strange looking beasts. Among them was the Aegirocassis, an anomalocarid arthropod that sported a very distinct look and could grow up to 6 1/2 feet or roughly 2 meters. Its most standout feature makes up what would be its lower jaw and is a series of spines connected by a thin mesh that served as a filter for smaller organisms. The Aegirocassis was not an active predator, though its size and unusual appearance would likely be jarring at first sight.
Like drifting pebbles in the sea, the Arandaspis Prionotolepis are slightly unappealing to the eyes. This early to mid-Ordovician sea critter, which grew to about 6-inches or roughly 15-centimeters, was mostly featureless, with tiny eyes, nostrils, a jawless mouth, and gills peering creepily out from under a pair of hard plates. A lack of fins and flattened tail gave the appearance of a common tadpole, but the eyes and mouth make it look very alien. What Arandaspis fed on is unknown, though its downward-turned mouth suggests it was a bottom feeder.
We once dubbed elephants among the cutest, yet most dangerous animals. We may be looking to retroactively remove it based on its prehistoric ancestor, the Platybelodon. During the Miocene Epoch, the lands of Asia were once inhabited by this strange looking Proboscidea. What warrants a spot on this list of creepy-looking prehistoric beasts, you ask? There’s just something about its odd-shaped mouth that we don’t like. The shovel-like shape, the two flattened modified incisors protruding from the lower jaw… it’s weird, very uncanny, and more than what we’re comfortable with.