Weird History

Things That Were Terrifyingly Bigger In Prehistoric Times  

Jacoby Bancroft
158.1k views 16 items

Living in the 21st century certainly has its perks – deoderant, Snapchat, Beyoncé, and the list goes on. Fortunately for us, we're aren't doomed to roam any prehistoric era, when not getting mauled and eaten by a saber-tooth tiger was the most success a person could ask for on any given day. One of the biggest benefit of the modern age would have to be the lack of gargantuan – and sometimes carnivorous – prehistoric animals. Creatures of land, sky, and sea were all significantly larger back then, and although most of these age-old giants have some distant relative still living today, they're not necessarily what you would expect. Check out the list below for things that were terrifyingly bigger in the prehistoric era.   

Scorpion is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Things That Were Terrifyingly Bigger In Prehistoric Times
Photo:  Ghedoghedo/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0/Mike Baird/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Known as J. rhenaniae, this giant sea scorpion was an ancient relative of modern-day land scorpions, and obviously much bigger. A top predator in its time, this beast had claws with large, sharp teeth to grasp and hold slippery fish. As such, these creatures resided only in the water, and for good reason. Although their bodies were huge, their legs were flimsy, and any attempt to go on land would lead to a huge collapse. The biggest one on record measures over eight feet in length and likely devoured anything in its path, even members of its own species.

What’s scarier than a giant sea scorpion? A giant cannibalistic sea scorpion.

Clam is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Things That Were Terrifyingly Bigger In Prehistoric Times
Photo:  James St. John/Flickr/CC BY 2.0/Michael Dorausch/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Few would consider the modern clam scary, unless it's pitted against its giant prehistoric relative. Scientifically named the platyceramus, the giant clam could reach over nine feet in diameter. Anything that has the capacity to open up and swallow you whole is frightening. Luckily, the platyceramus was only found deep underneath the sea.

Rat is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Things That Were Terrifyingly Bigger In Prehistoric Times
Photo:  Gustavo Lecuona/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5/Kapa65/Pixabay/Public Domain

Instead of a small, furry creature loitering around your dumpster, imagine a ten-foot-long, 2,200-pound monster of a rat that could comfortably fend off saber-toothed cats and meat-eating birds. That’s the story of the Josephoartigasia monesi, an ancient, bull-sized relative of the rat and the world’s largest recorded rodent. This creature most likely fed on aquatic plants and fruits because of the shape of its teeth and lived in South America with an abundance of similar creatures. So next time you get scared by a rat, remember that dealing with a small rat is far preferable to dealing with its ancient brethren. 

Sloth is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Things That Were Terrifyingly Bigger In Prehistoric Times
Photo:  Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr/CC BY 2.0/Geoff Gallice/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Today's sloths are silly, lovable creatures. They move slowly and they’re oddly shaped, but maybe we wouldn’t laugh at them so much if we were familiar with their ancient relatives.

The mighty megatherium was one of the most famous giant mammals to have existed on earth after the extinction of the dinosaurs. When walking on all fours, the megatherium could reach a length of almost 20 feet and could stand on its hind legs to reach a monstrous 13-foot height. Traditionally, research indicates that the megatherium was an herbivore, but some insist that the giant sloth also ate meat and scavenged the bodies of other dead animals, scaring other creatures away.