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Top 10 Prehistoric Animals

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Shane Fraser.

Some prehistoric creatures look like they come straight from your nightmares. But of course, those are the COOLEST prehistoric animals! From dinosaurs like the T-Rex and the Triceratops, to underwater monsters like the monster shark himself Megalodon, to other famous extinct animals like the Woolly Mammoth and the Saber-Toothed Tiger, WatchMojo takes a look at the many terrifying prehistoric creatures that make us glad we’re alive today.

Special thanks to our users Luke Murphy, Esteban Tomás Guirao, Pedro Wichtendal Villar and sousa.r16@gmail.com for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Prehistoric%20Creatures

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Transcript
Top 10 Prehistoric Animals

They put modern animals to shame. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Prehistoric Animals.

For this list, we’re looking at the coolest animals that lived before written history. Every type of animal is eligible – from dinosaurs to fish to mammals – as long as they are extinct and prehistoric. The entries are ranked by how renowned, interesting and impressive they were, with an emphasis on notoriety.

#10: Estemmenosuchus
Though not recognizable to humans, Estemmenosuchus must’ve been a celebrity among its prehistoric brethren; its Cubone-like appearance would’ve made it memorable. With a name that means, “crowned crocodile,” which conjures a rough idea of its appearance, the Estemmenosuchus predated dinosaurs, meaning we don’t have a lot of information on the animal, and what we do have is strangely ambiguous. Its body could extend to more than 10 feet long, with a 26 inch-long head – an imposing sight even without the antler-like horns. What’s more, the Estemmenosuchus was also said to be an omnivore, though some experts peg it as more of a plant-eating creature. So, while its true identity remains a mystery, at least we can say it looks like a Pokémon.

#9: Liopleurodon
You think the ocean is scary now? Try living in the Jurassic period when its aquatic inhabitants were true sea monsters. The ruler of the seas was Liopleurodon, a short-necked plesiosaur with a four-foot skull and an intimidating set of jaws. Liopleurodon was originally thought to be 80 feet long, given the size of individual bones, but this was redacted when a more accurate and conservative estimate of 16 to 23 feet was announced – but even so, this does little to curb our fear. The T-Rex of the ocean – an apex predator with an appetite for flesh and bone – Liopleurodon is an underrated killer.

#8: Triceratops
It was the vegetarian king of the dinosaurs. Despite no carnivorous appetite, Triceratops was built like an armored tank, capable of overpowering the most ferocious dinosaur adversaries. In museum recreations, the battles between Triceratops and T.Rex were the Ali-Fraziers of the Cretaceous period. In real life, it’s debatable just how epic and frequent these clashes were, but it’s clear that Triceratops was not an easy prey for the big guy. Its horns were once thought to be a means of defense, used to assert authority. Triceratops was one of the last dinosaurs to go extinct, outliving several species that came before it. It’s clear that Triceratops’ vegetarian lifestyle did not make it any less of a survivor.

#7: Smilodon [aka Saber-Toothed Tiger]
An apex predator supreme, these animals were only distantly related to tigers and are definitely one of the more recognizable ferocious beasts on this list. They had a thick, muscular body, a large jaw, and long, protruding canines that were ready for the kill. With the help of their signature 11-inch weapons, Smilodon hunted and impaled animals of all shapes and sizes, including giant bison, mammoths, and ground sloths. Smilodon is also the largest known feline to have ever lived, tipping the scales at almost 900 pounds, and possibly over 1,000. They reigned for 2 million years before dying out in 10,000 BC.

#6: Spinosaurus
Despite the notoriety of predatory dinosaurs like T-Rex, Allosaurus, and Albertosaurus, none was larger or more terrifying than Spinosaurus. Estimates place its size at up to 60 feet long and almost 21 tons, which would make Spinosaurus the largest predatory dinosaur. In fact, the 40-foot, 10-ton T-Rex – you know, the supposed “king” of the dinosaurs – looks like a child next to this killing machine. Size aside, its features were doubly unsettling. With a head like a crocodile, spinal vertebrae that made a giant sail on its back, and a bevy of specialized teeth, Spinosaurus hunted on land and in the water as it pleased. It dominated for millions of years before dying in the Cenomanian extinction.

#5: Titanoboa
Ophidiophobics – that is, those who fear snakes – beware: Titanoboa could make an anaconda look like a garter snake. At 42 feet, Titanoboa was twice as long as the reticulated pythons we currently have slithering around, and almost twelve times heavier than the green anaconda, the largest snake living today. This one-ton serpent lived in the period that succeeded the dinosaurs, and though it was considered an apex predator, preying on gigantic reptilian contemporaries like turtles and crocodiles, it’s now thought to have primarily have feasted on fish. In 2009, several vertebrae of the Titanoboa were found in a South American mine, giving us a much better idea of their magnitude.

#4: Paraceratherium
30 million years ago there existed a land animal that would put the largest African elephant to shame. Paraceratherium was a hornless rhinoceros that could grow to almost 24 and a half feet long, and up to 16 feet high to its shoulders, with its weight reaching up to 20 tons. To put that in perspective, some giraffes – necks and all – would barely clear its shoulders, and the biggest elephant wouldn’t even crack 8 tons. Though considered by many to be the largest terrestrial mammal to have ever lived, Paraceratherium was an herbivore with no anatomical weapons save its size, leaving a comparatively gentle giant who could (but probably wouldn’t) stomp most creatures to death.

#3: Woolly Mammoth
Of all the prehistoric mammals, none is more iconic than the woolly mammoth. Living during the Pleistocene period, these large hairy elephants populated the Northern Hemisphere, with a presence indicating strong biodiversity. Mammoths helped further the development of humanity, with every piece being used as material for either food, clothing, or shelter. The woolly mammoth is also renowned for its imperishability, since the Wrangel Island population lived till 4,000 years ago. For context, that means there were mammoths living long after the pyramids were built. And since there’s been a tremendous amount of organic material originating from mammoths found preserved in ice, mammoths remain a prime candidate for cloning. Be ready for “Mammoth Park.”

#2: Megalodon
You’re definitely going to need a bigger boat for this beast. Imagine a shark larger than a whale and you have just begun to breach the surface of this horrifying apparition. Perhaps the best indication of its nearly incomprehensible size is the dimensions of its mouth. At nine feet high and eleven feet wide, Megalodon’s mouth would have little problem engulfing a school bus. It was also lined with seven-inch teeth, which worked to produce a bite force of 20 US tons per square inch. Megalodon was similar in appearance to a great white shark but three times as large, and, considering its combination of size and power, it may be the greatest predator in Earth’s history.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Stegosaurus
- Helicoprion
- Entelodont
- Velociraptor
- Basilosaurus

#1: Tyrannosaurus Rex
It is the undisputed king of the dinosaurs, both in name and reputation, as Tyrannosaurus Rex literally means “tyrant lizard king.” Since the first Tyrannosaurus remains were uncovered in 1874, people have been fascinated by this dynamic creature, which has popped up time and time again in every form of media. Fossil recreations of its skeleton are always among the most popular part of any museum. With its undeniably fierce appearance and demonstrated skill as a predator, its popularity proves that human beings love being scared. T-Rex also turned the spotlight on theropod dinosaurs, the bipedal giants that include the Utahraptor, Giganotosaurus, and Allosaurus. And, while those guys have been worthy challengers to its notoriety, T-Rex will never be dethroned.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite prehistoric animal? For more extant Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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