The world today may be full of bizarre creatures, but none are as bizarre as the animals from the Jurassic period. Many events occurred at the end of the Triassic period that gave way to the emergence of these strange Jurassic animals. As temperatures increased and humidity levels rose, vegetation became more dense and the air more oxygen-rich, enabling the earth to sustain a large population of totally weird, unique species.
While many Jurassic species are immediately recognizable thanks to pop culture blockbusters like Jurassic Park, there are other lesser-known and even weirder Jurassic species that should not be overlooked. From giant fleas to fierce carnivorous birds, the cool species of the Jurassic period are fascinating.
It's hard to imagine a mere bird being very intimidating, especially in an era that also had dinosaurs, but Phorusrhacidae (colloquially known as the "Terror Bird") was no mere bird. These giant flightless predatory birds grew up to ten feet tall, ran 30 miles an hour, and likely killed their prey by smashing it repeatedly into the ground or pecking it to death with their oversized beaks: "not only does this stun and kill the prey but it also breaks the preys bones so that it can be more easily swallowed whole."
With superior senses and relatively high intelligence, they were the apex predators of South Africa.
This tree-dwelling, sparrow-sized proto-bird did not truly fly by flapping its wings, but instead relied on gliding or leaping from tree to tree.
The discovery of Scansoriopteryx turned scientific thinking on its head, suggesting that modern birds evolved from small tree-climbing archosaurs instead of from ground-dwelling dinosaurs, as was previously believed. This new theory is called the "trees down" theory, in opposition to the old "ground up" theory of how birds came to be.
Even animals as intimidating as dinosaurs fell prey to the painful annoyance of fleas - but these fleas were also "dino-sized." Pseudopulex was about 10 times bigger than a modern flea, almost an inch long, with long claws that could cling to a dinosaur's scales while sucking blood. Getting bitten by one would have felt like a hypodermic needle puncture.
Now known as Pliosaurus funkei, Predator X (as it was called before being formally named) was as fearsome as its name suggests. Predator X was a truly gigantic 40 feet long, and had a bite four times more powerful than a T. rex. It was the largest and toughest species living in "an ancient Arctic sea teeming with fearsome predators."
However, its massive size could also be its undoing: quick-moving prey could dart to shallower waters where the hulking Predator X couldn't follow.