The movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters was jam-packed with CGI creatures like a giant moth and three-headed dragon. While viewers didn’t leave the theater afraid they might run into one of these creatures, animals very similar did once roam the earth. Real-life monsters could be found on both land and sea. Here are seven:
A few million years after the dinosaurs went extinct, something else emerged. In huge, swampy South American jungles, insects and animals grew much larger than their equivalents today thanks to the high temperatures. One of those creatures, the Titanoboa, ate basically whatever it could find, even crocodiles. From what fossils reveal, the Titanoboa was the largest snake ever at over 40-feet long and over 2,000 pounds.
Plesiosaurs are similar to dinosaurs, arguably the most famous of the real-life monsters, but they’re technically different. Within the plesiosaurs, one in particular would be the most terrifying: the liopleurodon. These ocean-dwelling creatures could weigh over 3,500 pounds and grow longer than 30 feet. To capture prey, it used huge jaws filled with several rows of teeth.
Liopleurodon and plesiosaurs fossils exist, discovered by different paleontologists around the world. This type of extinct real-life monster has a broad distribution in the Pacific Ocean, Australia, Asia, North America, and the European seas.
During the Cretaceous Period, liopleurodon went extinct. As deadly as other marine reptiles, plesiosaurs and liopleurodon made a mark in the progress of evolution. Liopleurodon coexisted with different dinosaurs, which are the monstrous sea-dwelling reptile in the mid-Jurassic period. A liopleurodon is a short-necked plesiosaur that existed in Europe.
Mary Anning, a fossil collector, and paleontologist was the first to discover a Plesiosaurus’s complete skeleton. The Natural History Museum in London, UK, displays the spectacular finds of Mary, including her pterosaur, ichthyosaur, and plesiosaur. Her found fossils captivate visitors from different parts of the world.
While it’s really a distant relative of the crocodile, people still nickname this huge reptile, “SuperCroc.” It measured 40 feet long, which is twice as long as the largest crocodile still around today, and could weigh as much as 10 tons. It lived in the time of dinosaurs, and might have eaten some of the less-lucky ones who wandered by the SuperCroc’s water. However, experts believe the giant croc probably lived mostly on fish.
What makes this giant animal monstrous? Researchers concluded that the ancient “SuperCroc” or sarcosuchus possesses jaws of steel. SuperCrocs aren’t different from today’s crocodiles and alligators. They’re just bigger. Like a wild gator, a sarcosuchus, in the past, catches live prey and eats hard prey. Its muscles used in biting have solid bone density, stronger than other captive animals.
Insects have significantly shrunk in size over the course of evolution. Experts believe giant arthropods like the Meganeura existed because of high atmospheric oxygen levels. What’s a Meganeura? It’s basically a giant dragonfly with a wingspan of about 2 feet. They would probably have eaten amphibians and other insects.
The large size of Meganeura was due to the atmosphere’s increased oxygen content during the Carboniferous period they existed, which is still under debate.
Speaking of amphibians, they also used to be much bigger. The Metoposaurus, a type of carnivorous amphibian, lived in places like Germany, Africa, and North America. They existed before the dinosaurs, and could grow over 6-feet long. If you saw one, you’d think it was a huge salamander, but it’s actually the ancestor of frogs and newts. The Metoposaurus probably spent most of its time in water.
You might not think of birds as real-life monsters, but with a name like “terror bird,” the Phorusrhacids qualify. Like the ostrich, these birds couldn’t fly, but they didn’t need to. They could run 30 mph, which would be a terrifying sight considering they could grow up to 10-feet tall. Fossils tell us their beaks were designed for flesh-ripping, like eagles. Most fossils have been found in South America, though there are a few from North America, too.
The oldest example of sea scorpions, the discovery of the pentecopterus decorahensis fossil proved that sea scorpions evolved 10 million years earlier than previously thought. While it is the ancestor of modern ticks, spiders, and lobsters, this giant sea scorpion measured over 6-feet long. It gets its name from an ancient Greek warship, which gives you an idea of its predatory habits.
In 2017, paleontologists discovered an eerily-perfect fossil of a dinosaur. Even though the species was a vegetarian, it would still have been terrifying to behold in real life. What else was unearthed that year?