Weird History

The Most Bizarre Fossils Ever Discovered  

Eric Luis
47.3k votes 10k voters 441.1k views 16 items

List Rules Vote up the ancient fossils that are wilder than Jurassic Park.

Hidden deep underground are some of the rarest treasures in all of science. Formed from immense pressure over millions of years, fossils tell us the story of our long-lost ancestors and the strange creatures that populated their world. Bizarre fossil discoveries are becoming more common as we develop new digging techniques and open our minds to the otherworldly phenomenon that is prehistoric life. Many of these insane fossils changed our understanding of the world forever, and we're still just beginning to understand the importance of these bony artifacts.

While dinosaurs are some of the most famous of all extinct species, not all of the strangest fossils ever discovered came from those terrible lizards. Some of the most bizarre fossils came from creatures so alien, you have to see them to believe they're real. These are the last remnants of the oldest lifeforms on the planet, preserved in time and rock for future generations to marvel at.

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A Dinosaur Tail Covered In Feathers Was Found Trapped In Amber
A Dinosaur Tail Covered In Fea... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Bizarre Fossils Ever Discovered
Photo: R.C. McKellar/Royal Saskatchewan Museum/Collection Loans Policy

One of the rarest and most unique discoveries in all of paleontology, scientists were thrilled at the announcement of a 99 million-year-old dinosaur tail found encased in amber. The tail, which was completely covered in feathers, is further evidence in the debate that many dinosaur species were actually covered in downy feathers.

The tail is one of the most perfectly preserved dinosaur appendages ever discovered. Evidence suggests the tail belongs to a young coelurosaur, a bipedal theropod.

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A Velociraptor And Its Prey Were Fossilized Mid-Combat
A Velociraptor And Its Prey We... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Bizarre Fossils Ever Discovered
Photo: Yuya Tamai/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Velociraptors are poorly understood outside of the paleontological community, mostly due to inaccuracies in the Jurassic Park franchise. No, velociraptors were not six-foot-tall, hyper-intelligent carnage machines. The velociraptor was actually about the size of a turkey and more of a scavenger than a predator. Still, that doesn't mean that some raptors weren't predatory in nature.

One fossil actually captures a raptor preying on a Protoceratops, but the fight was much closer than you'd imagine. The raptor had pierced the Protoceratops with its massive toe claw, but the Protoceratops managed to bite and break the raptor's arm using its powerful beak. The two passed together, probably due to the unexpected collapse of a sand dune.

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One Dinosaur Was Preserved While Incubating Her Nest
One Dinosaur Was Preserved Whi... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Bizarre Fossils Ever Discovered
Photo: Steve Starer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

One fossil of a dedicated mother incubating her eggs made waves when it was discovered in the Gobi Desert. The 80 million-year-old Oviraptor helped prove that some dinosaurs had strong parental instincts at a time when there was little evidence to support the idea. It also strengthened the idea that dinosaurs and birds were remarkably similar.

The poor mother was likely covered in sand while defending her nest from the elements, immortalizing her as one of the best mothers of prehistory.

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A Pterodactyl-Eating Fish Met Its End In The Middle Of A Meal
A Pterodactyl-Eating Fish Met ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Bizarre Fossils Ever Discovered
Photo: Eberhard Frey and Helmut Tischlinger/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.5

If you can believe it, there was a time when giant fish were literally plucking winged reptiles from the sky. That's exactly what happened with this fossil, which depicts an Aspidorhynchus munching on a small pterosaur known as Rhamphorhynchus. Unfortunately for both predator and prey, neither one would escape this encounter alive. 

The pterosaur proved too large for the Aspidorhynchus, which may have gotten its teeth stuck in the flying reptile's leather wing. The pterosaur likely ran out of oxygen, and the monster fish probably starved soon after.

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