8 Prehistoric Creatures Ripped Directly from Your Nightmares

Prehistory had no shortage of terrifying monsters, with everything from the more well-known Raptors and Rexes to super rats and three-eyed shrimp. As pants-ruining as all those things might be, however, science is always unearthing new veins of rich, ancient terror-beasts that would make H.P. Lovecraft terror-puke right in Stephen King's eye.

#8. A Carnivorous Bird Monster With a 40-Foot Wingspan


The concept of a flying, carnivorous lizard is plenty terrifying on its own. Even in movies, pterodactyls and such are pretty small, because you simply don't need to up the fear quotient by depicting the things as 40 feet across or like 400 pounds. But that didn't stop nature from being the unholy little achiever that it is and doing just that.

And then putting funny little berets on their heads.

The Azhdarchidae family were a group of gigantic pterosaurs that plied the skies of the late Cretaceous. Members of the group included Quetzalcoatlus (named after the Aztec sun god Quetzalcoatl, a giant feathered serpent), Azhdarcho (named after a type of Uzbek dragon) and Titanopteryx (whose name means "really big opteryx"). Now, let's not get carried away and start picturing leathery-winged reptilian bird-things hunting you down from the skies and carrying you off to feed their younglings. Evidence shows that they were simply too large to have effectively grabbed prey and flown off with it.

Oh, is that not comforting? That the bird monster's only problem was being too fucking gargantuan to fly away with your corpse after it killed you? Sorry. Does this scale diagram help?

"Psh. Yeah, whatever, Evil Giraffe Bird. This is one office worker who remains unimpressed."

The Azhdarchidae didn't fly away with its prey like modern-day hawks, but only because that's nowhere near terrifying enough. No, the Azhdarchidae would spot you from the air, slam down into the ground next to you and creepily hobble-wing-charge your ass, scooping you up into its huge, jagged beak. We're not exaggerating that disturbing, high-speed death-waddle -- scientists believe that Azhdarchidae had a "particularly efficient terrestrial locomotion," which they were able to discern from preserved tracks that showed it placing its feet in front of its wing-claws as it moved.

This is basically Cloverfield with wings.

Meaning the 12-foot-tall carnivorous bird-reptile could gallop.

As in, gallop like a horse.

Like a horse that hates sanity and life in equal measure.

#7. The T. Rex ... Dog?

Hang on, his name tag says "Aaargh please call animal control." That's weird.

No, that's not real, is it? That looks like the end boss of a Resident Evil game. It looks like one of the slags from Borderlands. It looks like the terrifying gritty reboot of Dino for the new Flintstones movie.

Sadly, that beast is not the fever dream of a horror game designer, but rather a real, once-living predator called a gorgonopsid, which was essentially a bear-sized saber-toothed dog-lizard with a 3-foot-long skull. Gorgonopsids of the genus Inostrancevia were even larger -- about the size of a rhino -- with canines roughly 4 inches long. Gorgonopsids were the dominant predator on land for the bulk of the Permian period, only being wiped out by the Permian-Triassic extinction event, which rebooted 90 percent of all life on Earth.

When it takes a global event to stop the bastard, what can your puny firearms, tiny fists and feeble prayers do?

#6. The Giant Alligator-Shark That Ate Sea Monsters


The Cretaceous period was basically the Earth's goth phase, when all it cared about was finding something evil and monstrous enough to freak out its conservative parents. And it finally found that in the Hainosaurus and Tylosaurus, two types of prehistoric sea lizard that mama sharks used to scare their little shark babies into finishing their mackerel. Oh, and hey: You don't need to imagine what those freaky shark nightmares looked like; National Geographic has done that for you.

National Geographic

But don't worry; it's not what it looks like. Tylosaurus didn't really use that row of vicious teeth, nor even the two additional rows behind it. They were just there to make sure anything it swallowed whole didn't wriggle free.

Oh, right: They swallowed sharks whole.

They mostly only used those three rows of giant razor-sharp fangs as a barb-wire fence to keep their prey from escaping being digested alive. It was like a sarlacc the size of a school bus, except this one could actually chase you down and force you into its belly.

Wikipedia / Getty
School, or being ripped apart by a prehistoric creature? It's a daily dilemma.

They ate literally anything they could catch, including plesiosaurs, which is basically the Loch Ness Monster. Isn't that comforting? Even monsters have monsters they're scared of.

#5. The Terrible Pigs


Funny. Who slipped concept art from the first Ghostbusters into our article research?

Wait, what? That's not Zuul? That's Daeodon, the granddaddy of modern pigs? That's what bacon used to look like?!

Daeodon was about the size of a rhino, and while modern boars are just angry pigs with fur, this thing was also equal parts Cape buffalo and leopard, not to mention it looked like somebody had illustrated the nastier parts of the Bible.

If they were still around today, we'd all have to eat cats instead.

The name literally means "hostile destructive teeth," but the creature was for a time known simply as Dinohyus, or "terrible pig." They were "massive opportunistic omnivores," meaning that they pretty much ate whatever they could get their considerable jaws around. Which, uh ... would be most things, by the look of it. Here, have a screenshot from the BBC's Walking With Beasts.

Walking With Beasts
Holy shit, now there are two! Quick, somebody call Bill Murray.

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