6 Formerly Kickass Creatures Ruined by Evolution

Evolution isn't perfect. Just as the Kennedy family can produce a Ted, some noble species go down the wrong genetic path and what used to be the Tyrannosaurus Rex can wind up as a modern chicken.

Here are six kickass creatures that evolution apparently decided were just too awesome to exist and then, to add insult to injury, evolved them into the crappiest replacements possible.

#6. Hyaenodon gigas

Used to be ...
The Hyaenodon gigas was the size of a horse, with jaws as long as an alligator's, specially designed to tear away flesh. They had an acute sense of smell unmatched in the prehistoric world and weighed upwards of a quarter of a ton. They were swift, effective killing machines which traveled in packs and could, as a group, take down anything.

Remember the Velociraptor from Jurassic Park? Give it a sophisticated mammalian brain, warm blood and add a substantial amount of pure animal muscle and you have the Hyaenodon.

The Crappy Evolutionary Spin-off:
The fuzzy little raccoon. Despite its adorable eyes and overall cuteness, this animal doesn't have a lot going for it (though if it was domesticated it'd probably be more popular then dogs, what with their adorable little people-hands).

Far from being the dominant predator on Earth, wandering in vicious packs, raccoons spend their days as minor annoyances who tip over garbage cans. Rather then savaging the carcass of a fresh kill, raccoons hunt for that last bit of orange dust at the bottom of a discarded bag of Cheetos.

How the hell did that happen?
The Hyenadon lost the mammalian evolutionary arms race to larger, more merciless killing machines with more teeth and more muscle, slowly leaving behind only the ones small enough and smart (and cowardly) enough to hide. That's how in the game of evolution, the loser winds up extinct or reduced to stealing doormats.

#5. Gastornis

Used to be ...
Looking at that picture you'll come to two conclusions: This was a huge, badass prehistoric bird thing, and that it was cursed with flamboyant red and blue feathers. Still, this gi-fucking-gantic carnivorous bird took no prisoners in the time period when the Mammalians were just starting to come into their own. This thing devoured our evolutionary predecessors with a hook-shaped beak that could crunch bone like pretzels, and was a couple of late-night eating binges away from wiping hairy, warm-blooded animals off of the Earth.

The Crappy Evolutionary Spin-off:
Essentially anything from the Avian order Struthioniformes is a descendant of this thing, which includes animals as menacing as the Kiwi and the Rhea.

The Rhea is known to frequently run into walls

If you want to hear about dramatic irony, because of human expansion all species of Kiwi and Rhea are endangered. Didn't catch that? The mammalians that their great, epic ancestor once crushed now are wiping what's left of it off of the natural playing field by building strip malls. Take that, assholes!

How the hell did that happen?
At the end of the day, the Gastornis just couldn't make babies as fast as the mammals, which reproduced and evolved faster then the Gastornis could keep up with. Eventually the mammalians overcame the threat and what Gastornis weren't promptly killed by the more numerous mammals were confined to the tropical jungles. This, however, proved to be a poor long-term strategy when a minor event known as the Ice Age upset a few ecosystems and forced them into extinction. The more adapted, furry mammals moved on, leaving this warm-weather flightless bird to die a cold, cold death.

One Gastornis descendant who seems to remember this is the Ostrich, which, at the sight of a human, will go right for the neck.

#4. Smilodons (Sabre-Toothed Tigers)

Used to be ...
Anyone who has seen 10,000 BC (and escaped with their IQ intact) knows about Smilodons. With eight-inch blade-like teeth, these cats were the top predators of the late Pliestocine, and were the last dominant predators before our ancestors came along. They traveled in packs, the sight of which would make our ancestors crap their pants from miles away.

And rightfully so--a pack of these 500-pound beasts would bring their prey to the ground, then unsheath the blades and, with a single coup d'gras, bite through the major blood vessels and the windpipe.

The Crappy Evolutionary Spin-off:
You're probably thinking tigers here, but actually marsupials are all that is left of the classic Sabre-Tooth Cat (the felines were another branch on the evolutionary tree) so, sadly, the closest genetic connection remains adorable Koala Bears, Kangaroos and Opossums. The most common of these is the Opossum, most often seen in their natural habitat (the local freeway) in their instinctive 'bloody smear along the road' stance.

Yes, confronted with powerful human engineering, most of what is left of Smilodons are crunchy speed bumps.

As part of "playing possum," opossums will frequently wear a fake cast on their leg to gain sympathy

How the hell did that happen?
Speaking of powerful human engineering, Homo sapiens have been using its superior brain to destroy the cats since we first met them. Dramatic climate change coupled with the growth of the human race spelled the end for these great predators. Their descendants, led by the Koala Bear, survived by evolving until they were simply too cute to kill.

Though there is one marsupial still holding its ground: the Tasmanian Devil. The usual response to a natural sighting of these godless killing machines tends to be "HOLY SHIT A TASMANIAN DEVIL LET'S GET THE HELL OUT OF HE-(screams of agony)." It feasts on the dead and dying and leaves nothing but crushed bone and echoes of blood-curdling screams in its path.

Some sample comments from that video:

"I know from experience these "cute rats" are not teddy bears in any form. They will leave you with many bloody stitches and infections if bitten."

"one is biting me as we speak"

"i wanna be a tasmanian devil only thing is they don't spin like the cartoons"

Hey, it's YouTube.

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