6 Formerly Kickass Creatures Ruined by Evolution

#3. Megatherium

Used to be ...
Megatherium was the size of an African Elephant and, while a herbivore, still was able to fend off attacks from almost anything in the ancient world, including an entire pack of those sabre-toothed tigers. It had eight-inch claws on its foot for the dual purposes of defense and, we can only assume, bloody murder.

It often stood on its hind legs, rendering it twice as tall as the African Bull elephant. The folks at Wikipedia describe its skeleton as "Robust." We here at Cracked prefer the phrase "holy shit gigantic." Recent research suggests that Megatherium may have used its powerful claws to actually fight Smilodon for their kills when simple trees were not enough to sustain its monstrous appetite and apparent occasional craving for mammalian flesh.

The Crappy Evolutionary Spin-off:
The common tree sloth. These adorable guys are about as threatening as Switzerland. They are entirely herbivorous, and spend most of the day relaxing, reclining and generally not scavenging for flesh. They are mostly famous for being slow, and you know you've reached an evolutionary low when your species is famous for sucking at motion.

In certain conditions, even the plants they hunt can outrun the sloth

They suck so much at movement that the Catholic Church has actually named a deadly sin after their species. Isn't that wonderful? Modern sloths suck so much that even God thinks they suck. Seriously, watch this one try to cross the road.

How the hell did that happen?
This one is our bad, again. Megatherium vanished from the continent the minute Homo sapiens crashed the party and slaughtered them. Though ... you can't help but wonder if the sloth got the last laugh. Sure, they have no redeeming qualities. But their life consists of eating more then their size requires, sleeping 15 to 18 hours a day and pooping.

That's basically the American dream. You have to applaud them for that.

#2. Entelodon

Used to be ...
Entelodon was a seven-foot-tall monster who achieved the dubious honor of 'Best Scavenger of the Oligocene' by being an enormous, festering, smelly mess. It feasted on rotten carrion killed by more effective murderers and frankly was unwelcome at parties due to hygiene that could offend filth itself.

What's so impressive about this thing? After all, it's just a scavenger, right? Well, it did have a full set of sharp teeth designed for ripping flesh from bone and a jaw which could, actually, crush the bone, too. It had most of its dental bases covered in that regard, really. They also traveled in packs, so a rotting corpse had to defend itself from a dozen or so Entelodonts at a time.

OK, we saved the real reason for last. If another, larger animal wanted to fight over the festering carrion, it was common etiquette for the Entelodont to take a crap on the food just to make sure nobody could enjoy it. Why aren't there more high school football teams named after these things?

The Crappy Evolutionary Spin-off:
The modern pig is all that is left of the proud Entelodont line. Instead of feasting on the decaying flesh of a day old kill, modern pigs eat a vitamin enriched feed consisting of fiber and other wheat products. Sort of a step up, but still, there is that whole "You will be processed and eventually sold by Oscar Meyer" thing for modern pigs, so the prestige is really just gone.

How the hell did that happen?
Larger predators ate all of their food. They could no longer overcome other predators and steal their food, so they eventually died off due to the fact that they had no real ability to acquire food for themselves. Their punishment? This:

#1. Andrewsarchus

Used to be ...
Andrewsarchus mongolianis is the stuff of nightmares. Remember in Lord of the Rings when the horsemen from Rohan get ambushed by gigantic wolves called Wargs? Picture those things, only with a jaw twice as powerful, a body quite a bit larger, and a soul twice as evil.

Larger then a grizzly bear one and a half times over, Andrewsarchus was the most sophisticated killing machine since the Velociraptor. It was the largest mammalian terrestrial carnivore in the history of life on Earth. It was almost 15-feet long, and the first three feet of that was teeth. It was quick, agile and even had a pretty sophisticated brain for its era.

The Crappy Evolutionary Spin-off:
That finely-tuned killing machine's closest modern relative is anything from a sheep to a goat. The Andrewsarchus' Order, Mesonychia, has close ties to the modern Order Artiodactyla, to which Ovis aries and Capa aegagrus are a modern example of. Yes, that pitiful thing that smelled like its own feces when you awkwardly encountered it at that petting zoo is all that's left of the most powerful mammalian predator in history.

Goat-built fortresses are considered among the worst

How the hell did that happen?
The Ice Age essentially wiped Andrewsarchus out of the mammalian gene pool. All that's left are these warm, fuzzy remnants. This includes what has to be the utter bottom rung of evolutionary failure, the fainting goat:

Yeah, real nice animal there, evolution.

Walter Lawrence, when not writing about evolutionary failures, devotes most of his time to working on his nascent website, Internet-Explorers.net.

If you enjoyed that, check out our rundown of The 10 Lamest Dinosaur Names. Then, enjoy a video about a now extinct species that enjoyed dinosaurs more than most in our video explanation of the strange premises behind classic video games. Then check out what the crazy drug addled minds who came up with that video are up to these days over on the blog.

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