Top 10 Strangest Prehistoric Creatures

Script written by Shane Fraser Maybe some fossils are better left buried. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 strangest prehistoric creatures. For this list, we’re looking at animals that lived and startled millions of years ago. Special thanks to our users speechjon or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Shane Fraser

Top 10 Strangest Prehistoric Creatures


Maybe some fossils are better left buried. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 strangest prehistoriccreatures.

For this list, we’re looking at animals that lived and startled millions of years ago. These ancient monsters are ranked by how strange they look—whether they’re disturbing, terrifying, or downright goofy. Also, they must be prehistoric and extinct. Because these animals do not have simple names, their genus, which is the taxonomic rank that contains all similar species, will be used instead of their long Latin equivalents.
 

#10: Incisivosaurus

Dinosaurs are supposed to be large and menacing, but the Incisivosaurus apparently did not get the memo. Meandering the Earth over 125 million years ago, Incisivosaurus is named for its most prominent feature: large, protruding incisors that resemble rodent-like teeth. From this adaptation, scientists deduced that Incisivosaurus was an herbivore. Yes, the buck-toothed dinosaur—as people have mockingly deemed it—used its modified beak to gnaw and break seeds and grains, the same way rodents do. In contrast with its raptor cousins, vegetarianism is quite unusual, and we can only assume that this three-foot feathered buck-toothed vegan was the laughing stock of the Cretaceous period.

#9: Anomalocaris

The Cambrian period of approximately 500 million years ago was teaming with strange creatures, which you could call life’s first experiments with complex organisms. As prototypes usually are, the pre-arthropodic Anomalocaris was weird, incredibly weird - like Pokémon weird. Sort of resembling a squid from another planet – though its name means ‘abnormal shrimp’, Anomalocaris had two long protrusions from its face, each of which was armed with spikes, and two giant eyes that were disproportionate with the rest of its body. Equally disconcerting was its cousin, Opabinia, which had five eyes and an elongated appendage that could be compared to an elephant-like trunk. Opabinia was so strange, in fact, that the first scientific presentation of its appearance was met with laughs. As you can see, life’s rough drafts were not pretty.

#8: Longisquama

Longisquama is known from one full fossil discovered in Kyrgyzstan. The rock impression shows a small reptile with inexplicably large protrusions – or long scales - from its back. The protrusions dwarf the body of the ancestral reptile, and are shaped kinda like hockey sticks, a feature that left scientists confounded abouttheir form and function. It’s been hypothesized that the structures were attached with a membrane to allow for gliding, but this is a dubious notion. More accepted in the scientific community is that the appendages were unconnected and performed like peacock feathers: a display adapted for defense and mating. 
 

#7: Platybelodon

Many of our prehistoric animals have physical similarities with creatures still living and roaming the Earth today. For example, Platybelodon resembled a modern elephant with one notable exception: a lower jaw that looked like a shovel. This bizarro-elephant lived 5-15 million years ago and used the scooped jaw to troll the bottom of swamps for feeding material. Even the bottom teeth were flattened for precision digging. Along with the distorted mouth, Platybelodon had two side tusks that were used to cut trees and vegetation, making a cranial Swiss-Army knife of sorts. Platybelodon was surely one of the most formidable and intimidating herbivores to have ever lived.

#6: Eurypterid

Eurypterid was a very early ancestor of spiders and scorpions, and looked like a roided version of both. They lived during a lengthy period of time stretching from 470 million years ago to about 250 million years ago. Eurypterid is considered the world’s first truly large predator, as it could attain lengths of eight feet. Aside from being larger than a man, Eurypterid had two claws, four eyes, eight legs, and a spiked tail, completing a sadistic amalgam of horrifying features. It was an aquatic organism, but the amphibious legs indicate it might have eventually moved to land, making Eurypterid a threat from every possible angle.

#5: Therizinosaurus

Therizinosaurus looked like a dinosaur assembled with random body parts, and that’s exactly how science viewed it. With a tiny head, long neck, huge belly, immense claws and little feet, its true appearance eluded scientists for decades. Therizinosaurus was originally believed to be a prehistoricturtle, based in part on the discovery of its giant arms, the claws of which are the longest in creation. Other fossils refuted this claim, and it was placed in multiple dinosaur categories before it was given its own for lack of a better option. Some fossils of dinosaurs of related genus also contain feathers, proving there’s no limit to its bizarreness.

#4: Helicoprion

When an abundance of spiral fossils were uncovered around the world, scientists thought they were the imprints of ammonite shells. Further research revealed a much stranger conclusion: that the fossils displayed the mouth of a deadly fish. These “toothwhorls” adorned the shark-like Helicoprion as a serrated jaw used for snagging prey. Initial sketches had the mouth whorls unraveled, leaving one of the most unique depictions of a prehistoriccreature ever rendered. It is now thought that the spiral jaw faced inward, and the rotating teeth acted as a circular saw for grinding up food, though this still remains a topic of debate. Helicoprion’s jaw is among the strangest biological designs discovered—at least comparable with Stethacanthus’ anvil-shaped dorsal fin.
 

#3: Pterodaustro

Pterodaustro was a medium-sized pterosaur that lived 105 million years ago. Its signature adaptation was filter-feeding teeth, which made it perfect for water. Though practical, its mouth looked alien, as it consisted of thousands of bristle-like teeth jutting out of a disturbingly thin beak. Like the baleen of a whale, these teeth helped Pterodaustro filter water for prey, sucking up small organisms and spitting out the rest. Also strange is that the bristles faced upwards and stuck outside of the mouth even while closed: a highly intimidating feature for a rather unintimidating dinosaur.
 

#2: Microraptor

Because of their evolutionary link with birds, many dinosaurs had feathers, and this is a notion that is now accepted in society. However, just years ago the feathered dinosaur image was unthinkable, and it was the discovery of Microraptor that helped launch this freaky idea. Microraptor was a small four-winged dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period, and fossil evidence shows long feathers covering the flying creature. Another dinosaur that helped confirm this idea was Archaeopteryx, thanks to a single fossilized feather, the discovery of which turned paleontology upside down. It was a major breakthrough in evolutionary study, and changed the feathered dinosaur from weird hypothesis to even weirder reality.
 
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Tanystropheus
- Hallucigenia
- Carnotaurus
- Nyctosaurus
- Kaprosuchus
 

#1: Quetzalcoatlus

Imagine a pelican wearing a helmet. Okay, now imagine that pelican as tall as a giraffe and with a wingspan of a greyhound bus. That gives you an idea of Quetzalcoatlus. This pterosaur lived about 70 million years ago and ruled the sky, the land, or anywhere it pleased. Comparable in body size with a T-Rex, Quetzalcoatlus is one of the largest flying reptiles ever discovered, and could have feasted on prey bigger than humans. Complete with giant eye sockets, a cranial crest, an eight-foot needle-sharp beak, and limbs as well equipped for running as they were for flying, this dinosaur was a mashup of the most terrifying aspects of prehistoric life, and could unsettle with the best of them. 
 
Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite strange prehistoric creature? For more diverse Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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