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Really Weird Extinct Animals

Updated on September 25, 2014

When you think of extinct animals, perhaps the dinosaurs come to mind or maybe those of more recent times like the dodo bird or the passenger pigeon. The last dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago at the end of the cretaceous period and the last dodo died around 300 years ago. In between this time lived hundreds of strange and interesting animals. In fact, some of the largest mammals, fish and birds the world has ever seen lived and died during this age. Some of the animals of this time may seem familiar, others incredibly bizarre. One thing is certain, these animals are every bit as intriguing as the dinosaurs.

On this page you will find just a glimpse at some of these remarkable beasts, Enjoy!

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Doedicurus (Glyptodon)

Imagine a bony plated armadillo 12 feet in length weighing as much as a Volkswagen Beetle with a club of spikes on its tail and that's what Doedicurus (Glyptodon) was like.

Doedicurus fossils have been discovered in North and South America where it flourished during the Pleistocene, becoming extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Glaciation roughly 10,000 years ago. Doedicurus is one of the more well known Pleistocene megafauna and it is possible that early native human populations hunted them and utilized the animal as a source of food, as well as using the shells of dead animals as shelters in inclement weather.

Doedicurus shell was covered by more than 1,000 2.5 cm-thick bony plates, called osteoderms. Each species of glyptodont had its own unique osteoderm shell type and pattern. With this protection they were armored like turtles. But unlike most turtles, glyptodons could not withdraw their heads, but instead had a bony cap on the top of their skull. Even the tail of Glyptodon had a ring of bones for protection. Such a massive shell needed considerable support, which it had in features such as fused vertebrae, short but massive limbs, and a broad shoulder girdle.

The nasal passage was reduced with heavy muscle attachments for some unknown purpose. Some have speculated that the muscle attachments were for a proboscis, or trunk, much like that of a tapir or elephant. Most animals with a trunk, however, have nasal bones receding back on the skull, and glyptodonts do not have this feature. The lower jaws were very deep and helped support massive chewing muscles to help chew the coarse fibrous grasses and plants that can be found along river and lake banks.

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Indricotherium transsouralicum

The Indricotherium, also know as Baluchitherium and Paracaratherium, was a gigantic long-necked, hornless rhinoceros that lived in Asia during the Oligocene and early Miocene eras (from about 37 million to 25 million years ago). It looked like a cross between an elephant and a horse.

Most paleontologists agree that the Indricotherium was the largest land mammal to have ever walked on earth. Its skull alone measures from 15 to 33 tons standing 18 feet at the shoulder. This is about 4 or 5 times larger than a modern elephant. Their immense size would have made them virtually inaccessible to predators.

Like the rhinocerous, this extinct mammal had 3 toes on each foot and probably had a prehensile upper lip. Along with this and its four tusk-like teeth, two on bottom and two on top, the Indricotherium's mouth would have been perfectly adapted to stripping leaves from their branches. They probably lived in herds which roamed through an open woodland environment, their long necks making them well suited for browsing and foraging the tops of trees for food. They would have filled a niche in the ecosystem similar to that of today's giraffes.

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Learn More, See More

A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals
A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals

This fascinating book reveals a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of 103 mammals, reptiles, and birds that have become extinct since 1492. For each animal, the author describes what is known of its habitat, behavior, and probable cause of extinction.


Giant Ground Sloth (Eremotherium laurillardi)

There are four species of extinct ground sloths, the most spectacular of which is Giant Ground Sloth (Eremotherium laurillardi). This animal was huge and weighed as much as a mammoth, could rear up as high as a giraffe and had claws the size of a man's forearm. It lived around 130,000 years ago.

Giant ground sloths were some of the strangest mammals ever to have lived and resembled no other animal. Although related to modern tree sloths, they lived on the ground and rivalled the mammoths in size. Their remarkable claws were up to 50cm long. Massive hind quarters gave way to much slimmer shoulders and a tiny head.

They were herbivores and ate through all parts of plants and trees, fruits, leaves and twigs. It used its giant tail to brace it upright, while feeding on large amounts of twigs and leaves. The oddly balanced anatomy and massive claws of the giant ground sloths gave them a strange walk. From footprints in South America we know that at least some of the time they walked on just their hind legs.

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Share These Extinct Animals With Children - They are just as interesting and fun as the dinosaurs!

The Best Book of Endangered and Extinct Animals
The Best Book of Endangered and Extinct Animals

A colorful and broad introduction to endangered and extinct animal life from prehistoric times to the modern day.

The Extinct Alphabet Book (Jerry Pallotta's Alphabet Books)
The Extinct Alphabet Book (Jerry Pallotta's Alphabet Books)

This alphabetized assembly of bygone species mixes the ancient and contemporary, the bizarre and beautiful.

Prehistoric Park (3 DVD Set)
Prehistoric Park (3 DVD Set)

This DVD set goes all the way back to the dinosaurs and then hits upon the mammoth, huge extinct birds, sabre tooth cats, giant insects and crocodiles


Carcharodon (or Carcharocles) Megalodon

Carcharodon megalodon was a GIANT shark that lived in prehistoric times 25 to 1.6 million years ago, during the Miocene and Pliocene. It was the top predator of its time and is the largest carnivorous fish kown to have ever existed.

Scientists estimate Carcharodon megalodon was 40 - 100 feet long and could have weighed as much as 50 tons. This is at least two or three times as long as the great white shark of today. Giant teeth from this shark have been found that are the size of a person's hand. Since sharks skeletons are formed from cartilage rather than bone, no fossilized parts other than it's teeth have been found, so its overall appearance and size are based on inferences from examining shark teeth, dermal scales, and calcified vertebrae to draw their conclusions about this very successful group of vertebrates. Since Megalodon's teeth are very similar to the teeth of the Great White Shark (but bigger and thicker), it is thought that Megalodon may have looked like a huge, streamlined version of the Great White Shark.

Megalodon's diet probably consisted mostly of whales. It may have hunted using the same stealthy technique that today's Great White Sharks have been known to employ to capture pinnipeds, stalking their prey from deeper waters and then swimming up at full speed to deliver a massive bite.

Why did the Giant "Mega-Tooth" Shark become extinct? Perhaps the reduction in ocean temperatures in the mid-Pliocene affected this species, which preferred warm waters. Another possibility is that their favored prey species, such as the baleen whales, had begun to migrate to colder waters where the giant sharks could not thrive.

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Check out some more photos of this shark here

Aepyornis Maximus - A bird taller than a basketball hoop!

Aepyornis maximus, also known as the elphant bird, was the world's largest bird, believed to have been over 10 feet tall (3 metres) and weighing close to half a ton (400 kilograms (880 lb). It's eggs are the world's largest eggs at 88 cms.

Like the cassowary, ostrich, rhea, emu and kiwi, the Aepyornis could not fly. Birds that have lost the ability to fly belong to a group of birds called ratite.

It is often believed that the extinction of the Aepyornis was an effect of human activity. Studies have found remains of eggshells among the remains of human fires. Animals arriving with the human colonists, such as rats and dogs, may also have preyed upon the eggs of the ratite population and reduced their viability. Humans may also have hunted adult birds into extinction.

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Also Recommended

Prehistoric Predators
Prehistoric Predators

An Action packed DVD with realistic computer animation and exciting scenes such as the taking down of much larger animals during their Ice Age heyday, the saber-toothed cat, short-faced bear, and dire wolf. Sheds new light on the lives of these ferocious creatures, and their reasons for dying off.

Ice Age Mammals of North America
Ice Age Mammals of North America

Ice Age Mammals of North America transports you to the world of saber-tooth cats, woolly mammoths, four-hundred-pound beavers, and twenty-foot-tall ground sloths. Illustrated descriptions of the animals form the heart of the book and the final chapter explores why so many of these animals were extinct by the end of Pleistocene time.


Thanks For Visiting - I would love to hear your comments

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: The difference is specifically the time period.

    • goldnumbat profile image


      6 years ago

      the megaladon is a beast!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      buhahaha! You cann these weird? look at the burgess shale! =P

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fascinating's a shame that some of these are extinct...others I don't miss!

    • profile image

      The Goblins Den 

      7 years ago

      For every animal we know of today, it seems like a giant version of it existed at some point in time. I suppose it's good that we don't have to contend with a doedicurus every time we step outside now...but we probably helped kill them off in the first place. Great lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @ajgodinho: LOL not strictly true : they r still dead!!¿

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Well, I for one am glad that none of these will be around the next corner, lol! Very interesting and wll done, impressive, obviously you know your subject very well!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      The Oviparous Animals stopped by to commend you on such a beautiful and informative lens about extinct animals.. Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge .

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi! I'm adding this to my lensography of animal education lenses.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wow, I've never heard of any of the extinct animals/mammals you covered in this lens. You did a great job in presenting information about these creatures and bring them alive! ;)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Great lens! It is so sad to consider all of the really neat or beautiful animals which are already extinct. Lenrolling to my Help Save Wildlife with Your Purchase and Hangin’ With Sylvestermouse and Her Favorite Animals lenses.


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