There's no doubt bunnies, piglets, and even squirrels are cute and cuddly -- but it turns out that some of their prehistoric ancestors and relatives were quite the opposite.
In fact, some ancient mammals were extreme in terms of size, ferocity, and even their locomotion. You would not want to run into them...
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out the video above and/or read the transcript below to travel to a time when pig-like creatures were "terminators" and squirrels had fangs. Keep in mind, this is just a small sampling of the now-extinct mammals that once roamed the Earth. Did we miss out on your favorite prehistoric beast? Let me know in the comments. Talk nerdy to me!
Hey everyone. Jacqueline Howard here. Today we’re talkin’ mammals -- but not cute bunnies, scurrying squirrels or precious puppies. I’m talking about their ancestors, who looked like they were on steroids, had ferocious fangs and acted like terminators. Sorry little guy, you gotta sit this one out.
Mammals emerged around 200 million years ago. And fossils from around the world -- including South America, Australia, and Asia -- show us that these prehistoric creatures nursed their young, and had fur or hair just like modern-day mammals.
But that’s about where the similarities end. Let’s go back in time to see five ancient mammals that are nothing like what you’d expect. We're going to kick things off around five million years ago.
It turns out that bunnies were a bit bigger in prehistoric times. How much? About six times the size of bunnies today. Scientists say the ancient bunny known as “the Minorcan king of the hares” weighed up to 30 pounds, and couldn’t hop. It was an oddly unbunny-like bunny. But let’s go back even further to around 37 million years ago.
Scientists call them entelodonts but they’re known as terminators, and for good reason. These giant pig-like mammals that used to roam North America, Eurasia, and Africa were about the size of a buffalo, had oversized heads for their bodies and massive teeth. Fossil evidence shows that they spent a lot of time fighting. Some researchers say it was common for one of these guys to fit its opponents entire head in its mouth during a battle. Yikes. I’m ready to move on to around 42 million years ago.
You know that teddy bear you dragged around as a kid? Well this guy is nothing like that. This is a bear-dog -- a monstrous predator that was like a cross between a modern-day bear and a pit bull. Though these creatures were neither bears nor dogs, just their wild relatives. But things got even wilder around 100 million years ago.
You know about the saber-toothed tiger, but did you know that saber-toothed squirrels were a thing? Try to feed this guy nuts, and he’d take your hand off in a second, because what these guys lacked in size they made up for with giant fangs. But for now, let’s rewind to around 130 million years ago.
Today’s badgers are known for being pretty ferocious, I’ll admit. But they've got nothin’ on this guy who was so fearless he ate dinosaurs. Just look at this fossil that shows the remains of a small dinosaur still in the ancient mammal’s belly. These sturdily built mammals were similar in size and shape to modern-day badgers -- but they had more edge. Are you starting to miss our modern-day mammals? Let’s go back to the 21st century.
Whew, we made it back to the present day. But of course, the animals we saw during our journey through time are just a sampling of the now-extinct mammals who once roamed the Earth. Did we miss out on meeting your favorite prehistoric creature? Let me know in the comments, and c’mon talk nerdy to me.
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