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Everyday animals that were terrifyingly big in prehistoric times
April 26, 2018

Life in the 21st century is hard enough, but just imagine how much more stressful your commute would be if you had to speed past Incredible Hulk-sized “terror birds” trying to flip over your car, or if your windshield kept getting smeared with the remains of insects bigger than volleyballs. Suddenly traffic jams don’t seem so bad, right?
These days, most animals you encounter tend to be on the smaller side. Sure, there are notable exceptions, such as elephants, giant squids, and that insanely enormous blue whale. However, back in the good old days of yore — you know, the millions of years before human civilization dominated the globe — the ancestors of today’s animals grew to proportions so monstrously enormous that even Indiana Jones might faint. Get ready to see all your favorite animals in a whole new light.
Sloths were bigger than elephants
Everyone loves sloths, those designated couch potatoes of the animal kingdom. Sure, they’ve got some mean claws, but they’re so small, slow-moving, and relaxed that you wouldn’t be surprised to find one smoking a joint. However, BBC shows that back in prehistoric times, the forests were prowled by so-called “giant ground sloths,” also known as Megatherium, which were huge enough to take down any woolly mammoth that gave them a mean look. At least they were still vegetarians. Phew.
Today’s sloths cling to tree branches, but their 20-foot-long ancestors wandered around on four legs, occasionally standing upright in order to rip down any tree branches they felt like snacking on, according to
Mental Floss . These ancient ground sloths were so different from their contemporary great-grandchildren that when Thomas Jefferson studied one of their fossils, he determined it was a big cat of some sort. Even weirder, there was a species of giant sloth called Thalassocnus that dove underwater for food. If a giant ground sloth got into a fight, it was protected by armored plates on its back, neck, and shoulders, reminiscent of an armadillo.
Giant ground sloths managed to survive for a surprisingly long time, according to National Geographic, as there’s evidence the last ones were still strolling down the beaches of the Caribbean a mere 4,500 years ago.
Camels that were 12 feet tall
Camels are already massive creatures, like mammalian dinosaurs, and they have a massive personality to match. However, about 100,000 years ago, the Independent reports that some camels were a whole lot bigger. The “Syrian camel,” which wandered the grounds of present-day Syria, stood at a staggering 12 feet tall … which means that, yeah, it was about the size of an African elephant, or almost twice the size of today’s camels. If a regular camel is a “ship of the desert,” then a Syrian camel was the Titanic.
As it happens, Syrian camels actually weren’t desert creatures because the area of Syria they wandered around in is believed to have been savanna grassland at the time. It’s unknown why or how the Syrian camels died out, though early humans may have hunted them into extinction. Regardless, it’s interesting to imagine an alternate reality timeline where Syrian camels still existed and were, like their smaller descendants, domesticated. Just imagine a Sahara desert sunset, with those distinctive orange sand dunes populated by people riding on the humps of elephant-sized camels.
Crocodiles that could swallow a human in one gulp
All of us hairless apes might think we’re at the top of the food chain, but let’s face it, the biggest badasses on Earth are definitely scaly crocodilians. Although a Vice article claims they’re basically ageless wonders,
other researchers say that’s an exaggeration. Still, they can live 70 to 100 years and are seriously fearsome as soon as their teeth get sharp. It’s no wonder that these mighty beasts have shined their grinning mouthfuls of sharp teeth upon countless arrays of weaker animals (you know, like us) for millions of years. After all, crocodiles swam with dinosaurs, and they’re still swimming today.
However, crocodiles have experienced some evolutionary changes since they first appeared on Earth. Specifically, these huge prehistoric animals have gotten a lot smaller. For example, the ancient crocodile Machimosaurus rex, an ocean-dwelling species described here by National Geographic, had a powerful body over 30 feet long. If that sounds like one big crocodile, well, prehistoric freshwater crocs like Sarcosuchus imperator grew to a jaw-dropping 40 feet, about the length of an average bus. According to
Newsweek , these colossal crocodiles had teeth comparable to those of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and their heads stretched over 5 feet long. Just imagine the nightmares one of these crocs would have given Captain Hook.
Beavers the size of a black bear
Today, there are only two species of beavers remaining in the world, but according to the BBC, prehistoric beavers used to come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Beavers have always been impressive engineers, and the beavers of ancient times dug fascinating spiral burrows into the ground using their teeth. And repeatedly chomping down on dirt sounds a lot less pleasant than using a shovel, so you’ve got to give them credit for dedication. Out of all these old school beaver varieties, the Goliath of the beaver population was a creature called Castoroides, which scientist William Korth describes as “a beaver on steroids.” Your average Castoroides was about 10 feet long and weighed almost 500 pounds, with giant teeth about as long as bananas.
The tail of a Castoroides was less paddle-like than the tails we see on beavers today, but these ancient, big prehistoric animals were probably fantastic swimmers. There’s also evidence that these big ol’ beavers may have built dams similar to the ones their descendants would one day be famous for. Castoroides died out about 10,000 years ago, leaving us with the little beavers we know today.
Bugs that were the size of birds (or bigger)
If insects and arachnids give you the willies, look away now. That “clock spider meme” might’ve been creepy enough, but there was a time when just about any bug, from flies to cockroaches, was too big for a flyswatter to handle, according to National Geographic. For example, while real dragons probably never existed, the skies of Earth were once dominated by giant dragonflies, who boasted wingspans equal to that of a seagull. Seriously, take a second to imagine seeing that perched on your window. Meanwhile, CNN reports that 6-foot-long scorpions were creeping along the ocean floor about 5 million years ago, snapping their enormous claws at anything stupid enough to get in their way.
The award for ultimate arthropod of all time probably goes to Arthropleura . According to paleontologist Hans-Dieter Sues , Arthropleura was very similar to present-day millipedes, except it was over a foot wide with an armored serpentine body that extended over 6 feet. Luckily, if Arthropleura’s habits resembled those of the millipedes we know today, it probably only snacked on dead plant matter. Nonetheless, it’s surprising that some aspiring horror director hasn’t yet made a horror
movie featuring these many-legged creatures developing a taste for humans.
Gigantopithecus, the real-life Sasquatch
Even our own simian relatives once put us to shame, according to National Geographic. Gorillas might seem pretty big, but they had nothing on Gigantopithecus, an ancient ape that stood 10 feet tall and weighed over 1,000 pounds. These guys were about the closest you could get to a real-life King Kong. Gigantopithecus lived in what is now China, but it died out about 100,000 years ago, probably because its massive size came with — you guessed it — a massive appetite. If only lasagna dinners had been invented a few millennia earlier, maybe things could’ve been different.
However, according to the Smithsonian, plenty of cryptozoology enthusiasts have theorized that some Gigantopithecus might secretly still be alive today. Where are they hiding? Well, if you find one in the North American woods, you’d call it “Bigfoot,” and if it’s climbing the Himalayas, it’s a “yeti.” If the infamously unproven ape-man is really out there, it would make sense that he’d be a Gigantopithecus. But until some sort of incontrovertible proof arrives, we’ll have to chalk this one up as one of the many interesting Bigfoot theories out there .
A shark that could eat today’s sharks for breakfasts
Probably the most terrifying creature to ever swim in the ocean was megalodon, a shark so enormous it could swallow a great white in one gulp. According to National Geographic, megalodon means “giant tooth,” which is a fitting name for an animal with jaws powerful enough to crush an automobile. Megalodon was about 50 feet long, and shark expert Dr. Peter Klimley has explained that, “A great white is about the size of the clasper, or penis, of a male megalodon.” Thanks, Doc.
Since tasty human divers weren’t splashing around 10 million years ago, it’s theorized that megalodon instead satisfied its voracious appetite by eating live whales. Despite being so powerful, megalodon went extinct about 2 million years ago, perhaps due to a combination of cooling waters and competition from more social predators like orcas.
As with Gigantopithecus, some believe these giant sharks still prowl the waters today. According to
Time, this is because in 2013, the Discovery Channel aired a sci-fi mockumentary titled Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives. Understandably, 79 percent of viewers came out of this broadcast believing the colossal sharks were still alive, and the network subsequently earned major criticism from shark experts. For what it’s worth, there’s still no convincing evidence that the ocean we know today is holding any sharks even half the size of a megalodon.
Super salamanders with toilet-like mouths
The term “dinosaur” is Greek for “terrible lizard,” but as any dinosaur-loving second grader will tell you,
dinosaurs weren’t lizards. Neither are salamanders, though these amphibious creatures are often confused for a lizard, despite the fact that they’re more closely related to frogs. Lizard or not, today’s salamanders tend to be cute little critters, but 200 million years ago, Earth’s waters were the home of a 6-foot-long salamander, whose head was the size of a coffee table. According to paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, this amphibian was called Metoposaurus algarvensis, or as he puts it, “the super salamander that nearly ate your ancestors for breakfast .”
According to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology , the Metoposaurus lived in the Triassic period alongside the dinosaurs, but it died off before they did. Though these super salamanders were only around for a relatively short time, they were quite interesting creatures, possessing wide, flat heads that opened and closed much like a toilet seat. Maybe that’s where the phrase “potty mouth” came from.
‘Rats’ that could’ve charged a bull
Yeah, that’s right. Not only were bugs once the size of house cats, but some rodents were even bigger. Anyone who felt traumatized by the 1959 B-horror film Killer Shrews (which was probably no one, considering the film was goofy enough to earn a spot on Mystery Science Theater 3000 ) would not be happy to learn about the existence of Josephoartigasia monesi, the so-called “fossil rat” from present-day South America. Despite this nickname, these “rats” more closely resemble today’s capybara, a South American animal which is the largest living rodent in the world.
According to National Geographic, these sharp-toothed fossil rats could’ve trampled right over any capybara today, considering they were bigger than a bull and weighed over 2,000 pounds. Though J. monesi’s tiny molars have led researchers to believe they were probably herbivores that fed on aquatic plants, the animals also possessed some seriously deadly incisors that could easily fend off attackers. So while those wisecracking robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot might’ve laughed off those “killer shrews,” they’d probably want to steer clear of the real-life version.
Snakes that were as long as a school bus
Probably every millennial kid suffered from nightmares after they watched an enormous prosthetic snake swallow Jon Voight in the 1997 thriller Anaconda , which went on to inspire four lesser-known sequels. Real-life anacondas don’t get quite so enormous, but 58 million years ago, the tropical jungles of Colombia were home to an even bigger snake called Titanoboa cerrejonensis. According to the Smithsonian, the fossil evidence of Titanoboa reveals a snake that grew to over 40 feet long, and weighed over 2,000 pounds.
To get a sense of just how big this snake’s girth was, imagine it slithering in front of you, and imagine that the tallest part of its legless body was about as high as a human waist. Get the picture? Needless to say, Titanoboa could eat just about any other animal it wanted to, with the LA Times counting crocodiles (as seen in the sculpture above) and giant freshwater turtles among its favorite dinners. It’s believed these enormous serpents saw their demise due to changing climates.
Giant, flightless, big-headed ‘terror birds’
No, we’re not talking about dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus rex is certainly one fearsome grandpa, but birds have another ancestor who might’ve been even more horrifying. Meet the rampaging, flightless giant we now call the “terror bird,” according to the BBC. Imagine if a mad scientist fused the DNA of an ostrich and a vulture, then tinkered with the genes until the creature’s head was disproportionately huge and its body was 10 feet tall, and you’ll get an idea of just how scary these terror birds really were. One of the most powerful carnivores in Earth history, these huge prehistoric animals are often depicted cawing with glee as they devour everything from horses to wolves to saber-toothed cats. Based on the behavior of the terror bird’s descendants, it’s believed these avian carnivores may have attacked prey by picking it up and repeatedly smashing it against hard surfaces, breaking the bones. Sounds painful, but it gets worse: In case you were hoping these creatures were the heavy lumbering type, National Geographic reports they were actually fast-moving and agile. Yikes!
Anyhow, terror birds killed and ate everything in their path for almost 60 million years before dying out a mere 2.5 million years ago. Honestly, if they were alive today, it’s hard to imagine humanity would’ve ever survived.

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Circus animals who turned on their trainers
April 25, 2018

America doesn’t really do circuses anymore, at least not like it used to. Today, when the circus comes to town, it’s either human-only performers, or it’s picketed by animal rights activists. Books, documentaries, and horrific accidents have convinced most would-be circus patrons that the whole business is both antiquated and cruel. Not only do circus animals suffer from abusive training practices and low-quality care, but the circus environment is so far removed from their natural way of living that it sometimes makes them a little crazy. Add to that the fact that a wild animal will always be a wild animal, and their human handlers are in danger, too.
You don’t hear about circus animals attacking their handlers that much anymore, at least not in the context of American performances. Internationally, animal-on-trainer violence happens much more frequently, since circuses and animal shows enjoy greater popularity in nations where public concern for animal welfare is mostly trumped by public concern for people. Such places are slower to adopt regulations and to convince people that animal cruelty should not be a spectator sport — but even so, horrific attacks like the ones by these circus animals and performing animals are sure to one day make pretty much everyone think twice about buying a ticket to an animal show.
The elephant that went berserk
Despite her adorable name, Tyke the elephant was already known for her difficult and dangerous behavior when she killed her trainer and critically injured a groom during a 1994 Honolulu circus performance.
It’s almost not fair to call her “difficult and dangerous” — she was an elephant, and she should have been living wild where she could be as difficult and dangerous as she wanted. Instead, she was sold to the circus. Signs that she was not cut out for the job came early — a trainer who worked with Tyke years earlier told the LA Times she would “resist the training” and “run away when you tried to do anything with her.”
The year before the attack, Tyke injured one of her trainers, and in a separate incident smashed through a doorway in an apparent escape attempt. On the night of the attack , she entered the ring rolling something in front of her, but it wasn’t a log. It was the body of her critically injured groom. Her trainer tried to intervene and she trampled him to death, before breaking out of the tent, trampling a third person, and then going on a rampage during rush hour traffic in the Kakaako business district. Her bid for freedom was short-lived. Police shot her 87 times, and she died in the street. Since that day there have been no live-animal circus performances in Honolulu, not really for the animals’ sake but because people don’t want them there.
Lion vs. pokey thing
Circuses in Ukraine are alive and well — the National Circus of Ukraine does not seem to be at all shy about its use of performing animals (including lions, tigers, porcupines, and what appears to be a very unfortunate pelican). And that’s despite a relatively recent lion attack that sent spectators screaming out the doors and one trainer to the hospital.
According to The Guardian, in 2010, a lion attacked trainer Oleksie Pinko during a performance, and then another lion joined in because attacking living things is kind of what lions do, and then someone in the audience filmed the whole thing because that’s kind of what humans do. Meanwhile, everyone else decided that survival beats YouTube fame, so they grabbed their kids — some of whom were just 10 feet away from the violence — and got out of there.
Other trainers tried to intervene by poking the lions with rods, and the lions just bit down harder. Someone else fired a water cannon at the attackers, and eventually Pinko was rescued and sent to a local hospital for emergency surgery. He survived the attack, and as far as we can tell, big cats are still a part of the National Circus of Ukraine’s show, so no lesson learned.
Could you stop attacking that guy long enough for these irons to heat up?
Lion attacks during circus performances are not a new thing. In fact, death by lion has a long and glorious tradition among traveling circuses, and although no one would ever say so out loud, in the 1800s the possibility of witnessing an attack was kind of also a selling point.
In 1872, a lion trainer named Thomas Maccarte, who was missing one arm because of a previous lion attack that somehow failed to convince him that a career change was in order, was performing in Bolton, England, when his lions decided they’d had just about enough of him and killed him. For the full, bloody, blow-by-blow you can read the New York Times’ account of the attack in their archives, but try not to eat anything immediately beforehand.
To make a horrific story less permanently psychologically damaging, let’s just say that Maccarte, who was dressed as a Roman gladiator, tripped and fell in the ring and the lions saw an opportunity. Circus officials tried to stop them by firing blanks, and then by shooting them with BB guns from the rifle galleries, and then by beating them with “irons” that had been heated in a nearby fire, so at this point not much can really be said about the circus’ safety procedures. By the time they actually managed to drive the lions away, it was too late for Maccarte, who died from massive blood loss.
Dinner and a horror show
Guests at a Hamburg, Germany, dinner show in 2009 were starting on the first course of their $163 meal when five tigers and their trainer entered the ring. So the good news is the guests were probably just eating salad or bread or something and not a rare sirloin. The bad news is someone was about to get mauled by tigers, so they probably totally lost their appetites afterward.
Just like the unfortunate Thomas Maccarte, 28-year-old Christian Walliser tripped and fell and the tigers said, “Heck, it is a dinner show,” and then pounced on him. Happily, this particular show was better prepared for such an incident and did not have to go back to the kitchen to put kebab sticks on the stovetop or anything.
According to The Guardian, they had water cannons and fire extinguishers on hand and immediately descended on the attacking tigers, but not before Walliser nearly lost his left hand and sustained injuries to his head and upper body.
A physician who happened to be in the audience attended Walliser until help arrived, because evidently the show’s safety people had the water cannon thing covered but didn’t hire a doctor. Walliser went on to write a book and continues to work with tigers today. So what we can really learn from this story and others like it is that you should always avoid falling down in the presence of large, predatory felines. Maybe even the smaller ones, too.
Bears on ice? Really?
Performing lions roar and sit up and jump through hoops and stuff, but perhaps no circus animal is more greatly humiliated than the circus bear. These poor creatures have to suffer the indignities of wearing tutus and pointy hats and riding bicycles, and sometimes even weirder things, like ice skating. No, really.
In the fall of 2009, CNN reported that a bear attacked two people during a rehearsal for a Russian circus performance entitled “Bears on Ice,” which was exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. The bear was evidently on ice skates when the attack occurred, but he must have been pretty danged graceful on them because he somehow managed to kill a circus administrator and maul a trainer who tried to intervene without the further indignity of an embarrassing fall.
“It is unclear what caused the bear to attack,” the CNN report says, which is pretty obtuse if you think about it. Forcing a bear to wear ice skates doesn’t seem like an obvious enough reason? Try putting a pair of ice skates on your cat and see what happens. You’re probably not going to come out of that one unscathed.
Don’t mind the blood, the tiger just wants to help
One of the world’s most infamous tiger attacks happened in October 2003, when Roy Horn, half of the Siegfried and Roy duo, was attacked by a 380-pound tiger named Mantecore during a Las Vegas show.
According to Today , a thorough investigation failed to reveal the reason for the attack — this despite a lot of really wild theories, which include activists somehow provoking the tiger without anyone noticing or that someone in the audience might have used “far-UV or high ultra sonics” to trigger the attack. Siegfried and Roy, on the other hand, say the tiger was actually just helping his trainer as a mother tiger does with her cubs , so you know, it was all very sweet and innocent despite the horrifying loss of blood. “I will forever believe it was his concern for my safety and well-being that caused him to act as he did,” Horn later said in a statement. Hmmm.
The tiger damaged a critical artery, so Horn also suffered a stroke and became partially paralyzed. The attack not only ended his career, but also the long-running Siegfried and Roy production. The tiger was forgiven, though, eventually returning to the Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage hotel, where he died in 2014.
They’re called killer whales for a reason
It’s dark times for SeaWorld. What was once a popular destination for families now has a reputation as a land of sadness and death. And it all kind of started when an orca attacked and killed trainer Dawn Brancheau.
According to ABC News, the whale, called Tilikum, grabbed Brancheau by the ponytail and pulled her into the pool, then began violently swinging her around. An autopsy later determined that she died from a combination of blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and torso, plus drowning. The attack happened during a performance.
It wasn’t the first time Tilikum killed someone, either. In 1991 he was one of three whales responsible for the death of trainer Keltie Lee Byrne. Tilikum was described as “a difficult animal,” and there were only a few trainers who would work with him.
After Brancheau’s death, CNN aired a documentary titled “Blackfish,” which retold the horrifying story and argued that captivity had made Tilikum dangerously unstable. Twenty-one million people tuned in, and suddenly the beloved family theme park was evil. Of course, SeaWorld also funds a major rescue and rehabilitation program for marine life, and it is a top contributor to oceanic conservation and research programs, so maybe a boycott isn’t the best way to go, but nothing is black-and-white. Except orcas. Okay, maybe let’s stop messing with orcas.
Um, you do know that thing has venom, right?
Maybe you’ve missed it, but snake charming is still a thing. You know, guy plays the oboe, snake rises out of the basket and sways, guy doesn’t get killed. Sounds like pretty dull entertainment, now that you mention it. (Why watch some dude with an oboe and a cobra when you can watch Neville Longbottom take down a giant snake with the sword of Gryffindor?) Anyway. Snake charming is still a thing.
According to the BBC, Ali Khan Samsudin, a Malaysian who called himself “The Snake King,” did more than just the oboe/basket/cobra thing. He was also known for locking himself up in rooms with snakes and scorpions and then hanging out there for days, which let’s face it actually seems way more boring from an observer’s perspective than the whole oboe/basket/cobra thing.
In 2006 one of his subjects bit him, but it was not his first bite (in fact he’d been bitten nearly 100 times), so he kind of just shrugged it off and went on with his life, which turned out to have only two days left in it. At the end of that two days he became very ill, was rushed to a hospital, and then died before he could be given antivenin. So the moral of the story is, when a cobra bites you, go to a hospital. Yes, it’s complex, but try to understand.
Circus of the scars
America’s epiphany about the general suckiness of performing animal shows came pretty late — in 1987 we were still okay enough with the circus thing that there was actually an annual circus television event called
Circus of the Stars that ran for 17 years and featured celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, William Shatner, and a bunch of other people you’ve probably never heard of because you’re not old. It was kind of like Dancing with the Stars with more mortal peril.
Not every performance was an animal act (in fact most of them weren’t) but the animal acts that were there were kind of unconventionally terrifying. Performers were stars, not animal trainers, so it’s not really that surprising that accidents and attacks happened sometimes. According to the LA Times, dancer Juliet Prowse was bitten not once but twice by the same 80-pound leopard because for some reason after the first time she didn’t ask the producers if she could switch to the flying trapeze. The first bite landed close to her carotid artery, so it could have been a lot worse; the second bite left “only minor injuries,” but why push your luck with a large cat when you could push your luck on the flying trapeze instead?
Tae kwon do monkeys
Despite the circus animal horrors we’ve mentioned so far, this one is actually pretty hilarious because it doesn’t involve any actual death and also includes monkeys that can do tae kwon do. And there really is nothing better at making your day happy than monkeys that can do tae kwon do.
In 2009, the Telegraph brought us the delightful tale of 42-year-old Lo Wung and his troupe of trained monkeys, who were performing outside a shopping center in China. Like so many other mauled-by-his-animals trainers before him, Lo slipped and the monkeys started kicking him in the head and punching him in the face. “They were leaping and jumping all over the place,” said an observer. “It was better than a Bruce Lee film.”
The trainer tried to fend off the attacking monkeys with a stick, and one of the monkeys countered with another stick. There was a long, tension-filled pause as monkey and trainer stared each other down, then they leaped at one another in slow motion … that last bit didn’t actually happen, but it totally should have.
After the trainer got the monkeys under control, he made them kneel with their hands behind their backs sort of like a Roman general would his conquered enemies, even though it sounds like the monkeys did most of the conquering. And it’s a safe bet the troupe probably never went back to that particular shopping center because you wouldn’t either if you got your butt publicly whooped by a bunch of tae kwon do monkeys.

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Historical animals that may never have existed.
April 25, 2018

The human desire to capture, chronicle, and categorize every animal we come into contact with has resulted in a rich record of terrestrial creatures, both living and extinct. But there’s a problem with that insatiable desire to be the person responsible for discovering and classifying the fauna of the past (and sometimes even of the present) — mistakes happen, and sometimes historical animals are misidentified, cobbled together out of bones that don’t actually belong to them, or just made up entirely. That means the animals of the past may not really be animals at all, but figments of someone’s imagination and/or eventual characters in the Harry Potter franchise.
Thankfully, it’s not a mistake that biologists and paleontologists tend to make on a regular basis, but it happens often enough nowadays to be amusing. It also probably warrants correction, especially if you’re the sort of person who just can’t have fun with 140-foot sea monsters and islands that kill people.
Godzilla frog
When fossilized tracks were found in the Elk County woods near Pittsburgh in 1948, paleontologists weren’t sure what they were, but the press knew. “Heavy, definite imprints in the sandstone,” wrote a local reporter, “as though made by a giant chicken as it hopped across the surface.”
Happily, the giant chicken analogy didn’t persist because humans can handle T-rexes, mammoths, and megalodons, but giant chickens would definitely put us all over the edge. According to Wired , it was clear to paleontologists that the tracks had been made in a time before chickens — millions of years before KFC or birds of any kind. In fact, in that particular era of geologic time, insects and amphibians ruled the world. That led people to speculate that the tracks had been made by a giant frog, which would have had legs about 2.5 feet apart.
The identity of the track-leaver didn’t move beyond speculation until 1983, when two paleontologists decided to have another go and determined the tracks couldn’t have possibly been left by a vertebrate, in part because there was a long, continuous groove down the middle that a hopping animal would not have left behind. Also there was the part where no one had ever found additional evidence of giant frogs from that era. Instead, they decided, the tracks were probably left by a giant sea scorpion. Good thing giant sea scorpions are way, way less terrifying than giant frogs. Or giant chickens. Thanks, paleontologists.
A chimeric penguin
Early paleontologists were sort of like kids with boxes of jumbled legos. “Hmm, these parts don’t actually look like they came from the same set, but they were in the same box, so … that means this rocket ship has wheels and a grappling hook.”
And in that way, many fossilized creatures made the journey from never existing to totally existing to totally never existing. Just total bloopers of historical animals . One such example is the Hunter Island penguin.
According to Mental Floss , in 1980 scientists were excavating a “prehistoric trash heap” on Hunter Island in Tasmania when they discovered a set of penguin bones that appeared to be different from the bones of any other known penguin species. So they gave the bones a name — Tasidyptes hunterivan — then congratulated themselves on being such awesome species discoverers. And they lived happily ever after.
Until 2017, when someone decided to ruin everything and do some DNA testing on the bones, and oops … they were actually bones from three different very much not-extinct penguins. Curse you, modern forensics science . You are no fun at all.
Cambodia’s national not-really-an-animal
In another tale of DNA totally ruining decades of tradition and the hopes and dreams of children, another animal that probably never existed is the kouprey, which was declared Cambodia’s national animal in 1960.
In 1937, a hunter shot an odd-looking bull ox. The creature weighed nearly a ton, had crescent-shaped horns (big ones), and didn’t seem to resemble any known species of ox living in the area. Less than 100 years before that, Paul du Chaillu gained international fame for being the first Westerner to confirm the existence of the gorilla, so it was kind of a holy grail to be the discoverer of a brand new species. That’s probably why no one really questioned the conclusion that the unfortunate creature was a member of a heretofore unheard-of genus. According to National Geographic, even the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology was on board, displaying the stuffed and mounted specimen as a “new species of ox.”
Live “koupreys” existed in the wild in small numbers, which prompted its rise to the status of “Cambodia’s national animal” as well as nationwide efforts to preserve the species. And then researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago had to come along and DNA-test all the fun out of the kouprey, concluding that the animal was actually just a feral cross between two very common types of domestic oxen. Let’s give those scientists a round of applause and the Nobel Prize for party-pooping. Oh, sorry. The Nobel Prize for
scientific party-pooping.
A ginormous spider
You know what the world needs? A giant spider. You know, a Frodo-eating, Harry Potter menacing, freaking enormous spider .
Just kidding. The world does not now need — nor has it ever needed — a giant spider. So thankfully, Megarachne, the spider with a foot-long body and a leg span of 19+ inches (roughly the size of a raccoon) did not actually exist. Or did it? No! Shut up. It never existed. Please, some of us have to sleep tonight.
Here’s the story of Megarachne, as told by Wired: In 1890, a paleontologist named Mario Hunicken, who clearly wanted to be remembered as the guy responsible for haunting the nightmares of every man, woman, and child in the entire world, announced he’d discovered the remains of a giant spider in Argentina. Then he hid it away in a bank vault so no one could ever question that giant spiders once roamed the Earth.
Then in 2005, biologists reclassified Megarachne as a giant sea scorpion. Yes, that’s only marginally better than a giant spider, but still, praise all the deities. The only people who were really bummed about the reclassification were the producers of a BBC documentary featuring Megarachne as a giant spider, which was ready to air pretty much at exactly the same moment scientists decided Megarachne was never actually a thing. Everyone else can probably agree the non-existence of a giant spider really is the best thing ever.
The fake sea serpent that everyone so wanted to be real
The word “dinosaur ” was coined in 1842. After that, fossil collecting became a national pastime, but not everyone was qualified to do it. Amateurs assembled skeletons all wrong, turning upright creatures into belly-dragging iguana-beasts, and sometimes the bones of several creatures would get mixed into one skeleton, much like what happened with the never-actually-existed Hunter Island penguin.
Sometimes, though, these misassembled fossils are cool. So cool, that museums say things like, “We know this is wrong but it’s just way too cool to do anything about.” According to Atlas Obscura, in 1845 a “fossil prospector” named Albert Koch found some vertebrae from an extinct giant whale called a basilosaurus. He assembled them into a 140-foot serpent he called “the water king,” or hydroarchos. Anyone who knew anything about fossils could have called baloney on Koch’s creation, but King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia had no idea because what Prussian king knows anything about paleontology? King Wilhelm was so impressed that he paid actual money for the monster and had it displayed at the Royal Anatomical Museum, even though the museum’s scientists had their suspicions.
After that success, Koch decided to build another hydroarchos, which he sold to a museum in Chicago. It remained on display, even though curators knew it wasn’t an actual animal, until the Great Chicago Fire destroyed it in 1871. But hey, at least those curators understood the value of fun.
Prehistoric France’s own unicorn
Most of the animals found in prehistoric paintings are based on real historical animals. In Lascaux, France,
artists depicted stags, horses, cattle, bison, predators like bears and big cats, and even animals that no longer exist in Europe, like the woolly rhinoceros. But one puzzling creature in the Lascaux cave complex is one that probably never existed at all: It’s been dubbed the Lascaux unicorn, but it appears to be a composite of several animals. According to Paleolithic and Neolithic History, the unicorn is nearly 8 feet long and has the body of a woolly rhino, the shoulder of a bison, the head of a lion, and the tail of a horse. It got its name from not one but two long, straight horns that look sort of like unicorn horns except that there are two of them. The unicorn also has a giant potbelly, leading some researchers to suspect it might be a fertility symbol.
It’s always difficult to say how past observers arrived at their conclusions, though. Looking at the Lascaux unicorn, to the untrained eye it’s just another bison, albeit a fat one with really strange horns. Maybe it’s not really a composite. Maybe whoever painted it just wasn’t that great at painting. Still, it’s fun to imagine prehistoric France being full of horses, woolly rhinos, and unicorns. Unfortunately, there isn’t any additional evidence that such a creature ever existed.
A camelopehoundvaark (or something)
The Set animal is ancient Egypt’s version of the Lascaux unicorn. Some Egyptologists think it’s a composite of multiple historical animals, and others wonder if it’s a now-extinct creature. Depending whom you ask, it’s either an antelope, a greyhound, a donkey, a camel, a long-snouted mouse, a giraffe, an aardvark, a boar, a jackal, a hare, or about a bazillion other creatures that live in or around Egypt that you’ve probably never heard of.
According to Images of Set author Joan Lansberry , some Egyptologists have speculated the Set animal is the extinct Sivatherium, a strange-looking creature with a long nose and wide horns thought to be an ancestor of the modern giraffe. The Set animal was built more like a greyhound, though, which wouldn’t make the dumpy, thick-necked Sivatherium as a candidate.
Lansberry thinks the Set animal, which is often (but not always) depicted with an erect tail and erect, square-tipped ears, is actually an ancestor of the modern Saluki, an Arabian hunting dog. Traditionally, Salukis have their ears docked much the same way breeders dock the ears of a pitbull, except with square tips. That doesn’t explain the bizarre, aardvark nose and the forked tail the Set animal developed over the years, but it at least offers a logical genesis for a creature that appears only in Egyptian art and hieroglyphics.
Islands that drown people on purpose
You know that scene in The Empire Strikes Back where they landed on an asteroid and then the asteroid tried to eat them? The Greeks had an ocean-dwelling version of that creature — it was known as aspidochelone, and it wasn’t just one or two sailors who came home with stories about it. Regular sightings of aspidochelone were reported for centuries, beginning (at least as far as the historical record is concerned) in the second century A.D.
According to Ancient Origins , aspidochelone was always huge and was sometimes mistaken for an island. Particularly unfortunate sailors might stop there for a cookout, and then when the creature noticed that someone had just built a campfire on its back, it would dive back down into the water and drown everyone and their hamburgers.
Aspidochelone was probably based on a real animal. Older descriptions of it said it could attract fish with a sweet odor it emitted from its mouth, which is a behavior that could (at a stretch) be attributed to a whale. Today we admire and respect those giants of the sea, but it’s not hard to see how a second-century sailor might see an enormous whale open its mouth and jump to a “that island just tried to eat me” sort of conclusion.
The panther that roams the outback
People have been seeing Bigfoot for well over a century, and tales of the Loch Ness monster have persisted since Saint Columba in 565 A.D. Not to be outdone, a crypto creature also roams the outback of Australia. Sightings of a large, black feline have been reported for generations, but like just about every Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, and similar animal said to exist just outside the reach of scientific evidence, no one has ever been able to find its remains or capture a decent photo of one.
Still, according to the Sydney Morning Herald , more than 500 eyewitness accounts point to something, even if it’s just a population of escaped circus animals or a very large, especially terrifying feral house cat . What’s less likely is that Australia has a native population of big cats. Australia actually has only one remaining indigenous predator (the Tasmanian devil ). Its two largest indigenous predators ( the marsupial lion and the
marsupial wolf) are both extinct.
An animal identified as a large Maine Coon cat was recently shot and killed in the Blue Mountains National Park, prompting speculation that maybe it was the source of the panther legend, although it was evidently someone’s pet and was named Gregory, which makes it a sort of unlikely explanation for “generations” of sightings. Still, the Blue Mountain Panther is probably explainable, but it’s taken a stupidly long time to find the answer.
Bigfoot gets his own national preserve
Because Bigfoot and all his cousins simply will not leave humanity alone, here’s a legend beloved by so many people that it got its own national preserve.
In Bhutan, Bigfoot is called “Migoi.” According to High Country News, Migoi is a giant man-beast standing 8 feet tall that can evade capture by walking backward and becoming invisible. Stories of the Migoi have persisted for centuries and are so widely believed that the government set aside 253 square miles of forest specifically for its protection. Yep, protecting Bigfoot was not a side benefit of establishing a national park; it was the sole reason for establishing a national park.
The good news is that other, actual creatures get protected by default simply because they happen to share a habitat with the totally-not-imaginary Migoi. The Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to the Himalayan red fox, snow leopards, the Himalayan black bear, the red panda, and a species called the “barking deer.” So although Migoi probably doesn’t really exist and probably never did, it’s at least able to do some good from its place in not-history.

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Today Is Worldwide Endangered Species Day
May 19, 2017

This is the third Friday of May and has been designated as Endangered Species Day.

1. Vaquita– Only 30 individuals of this rarest of marine mammal still survive. They live off the northern Gulf of California and are sometimes drowned or caught in nets by illegal fishing operations. The Mexican government is implementing a captive breeding program and have spent $100 million on their conservation.

2. Amur Leopard– Lives in northeast China and southeast Russia. Their fur grows to 3 inches. There are only about 60 of these cats left. In the leopards still existing researches have found very low genetic diversity which means this indicates inbreeding. This may have been going on for several generations and can happen even without human influence.

3. Sumatran Elephant– Nearly 70 percent of this elephant’s natural habitat has been destroyed in only one generation. They eat a wide variety of plants and deposit seed around their range which makes them play a vital role in the area’s ecosystem. Their population has dropped 80 percent in the past 25 years. The World Wildlife Fund is working with local groups to cut down on poaching and to create protected areas.

4. Hawksbill Turtle– These live in the world’s tropical oceans spending most of their time around coral reefs. They are often killed for their colorful shells and meat. Their eggs are also eaten around the world. They live for up to 50 years and weight up to 150 pounds.

5. Javan Rhino– Only 63 of these most endangered rhinoceros survive in a national park in Indonesia. Living in extremely dense jungle very little is known about their way of life. The adults only come together occasionally to mate.

6. Malayan Tiger– This beautiful tiger lives in the southern tip of Thailand and on the Malay Peninsula. Human kill the tigers because they prey on livestock and this could be one reason their population is in decline. They are also poached for a medicine made from their bones and for their meat.

7. Mountain Gorilla– Even though Dian Fossy’s research brought them international attention their are only two populations of them left. They remain in four national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They live in mountain regions of 8-13,000 feet and thier long fur allows them to live in freezing temperatures. They can stand up to four feet tall and the adults weigh up to 440 pounds.

8. Saola (or Asian unicorn)– These animals are found only in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam. Their were dubbed the unicorn nickname due to the two sharp horns that can reach 20 inches. They are cousins to antelope, goats and cattle. They were first discovered in May of 1992.

9. Cross River Gorilla– One of the world’s rarest great ape it lives in the mountains and forested hills of the Cross River on the Cameroon and Nigeria border. There is said to be only 200 to 300 of these alive. They have been displaced in large areas that was their traditional range. They seem to be fighting back by throwing branches, soil and grass at any humans that approach them.

10. Bornean Orangutan– This largest tree dwelling animal is native to the island of Borneo that is in the South Pacific. These are the slowest to breed of all mammals.

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Animal cruelty can finally give jail time

This is something everybody knows about. There are thousnads of animals a day being abused and killed by some stupid people that treat animals like objects that don’t have a life. These people even share horrible videos on the internet of what they were doing and was to hard to catch and get punished.

Here in Portugal it is illegal to mistreat an animal and can give you up to 5 years in jail if charged. This is a good thing. there were too many animals that were abused, even at home. They have a bunch of rules about what is considered violence against an animal and this is what helps them decide if they should be charged or not.

It doesn’t matter what kind of animals it is, each animal is a life and life should be treasued and not taken away because somebody decided to play god. It is horrible.

The government is finally doing something right around here. There are other situations with animals that have been solved and i hope they solve the rest.

It makes me happy to know that if i see someone mistreat an animal really bad and i make a complaint, that something will happen. They will do something, at least look into it because they need to by law.

I am not sure how the situtation stayed but here on the island there was a kennel that was getting overlotted that decided to just electrocute the dogs in a little house and throw them to the side like trash. This is one of the horrible things people should be punished for. I hope that this kennel got what they deserved and stopped this horrible act.

Some people don’t value what animals can give us daily. Dogs can  help depressed people and find diseases and drugs just by smelling. They help their owner whenever they can and loves you no matter what. Then you see those people that don’t care and feel like slapping sense back into their head.

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Most Dangerous Animals We Don’t Know

There are many small things about the planet that we don’t know. And the more we try to know the less we know about it. Some animals are dangerous and it is harder to ignore them. In the wild it can be seen that some animals have upper hand even more over their predators. Let’s take a look at some of such animals out there.

Africanized Honey Bee

One of the dangerous bee that can affect your health critically. This bee is known to have killed many people. Some of the time when these bees are in working mode, they are not going to harm. However there are cases where the bee is known to have damaged the people randomly. And that is one reason many people have found that its better to stay away from the nest of such bees. So far many documentaries have managed to find out how the bees are migrating and how dangerous they are. You can find most of such documentaries on YouTube.

Cone Snail

At the first look you may not find anything wrong with this snail. The color and the shape is normal. And there is nothing that can make you think is wrong with this snail. However the snail is known to be poisonous. It is estimated that one drop of the venom from the snail is said to kill atleast 20 humans. Many fish who tried to eat it are instantly dead. And the best part about this is that there is no antivenom. So nobody wants to tackle this snail. And there seems to barely any research going on for the same. So there you have this dangerous snail that can kill you just by mere touching.

Black Mamba

We think that snakes are not going to chase us. And they are just going to their own way if we ignore them. And that is where the black mamba comes in. This is the snake that is going to chasee you when you are trying to mess with it. And if it decides to bite you, it is going to chase you. The snake in australia is known to have killed many targets this way. It can even attack even if it is not provoked and also not when the hunger is there. And the worst part about the snake is that the poison has known to kill many people instantly. So that is one adventure to be around this snake.

Poison Dart Fog

At first this semi glowing frog looks cute. But the worst part about this frog is that merely touching it’s skin, we are getting the venom inside our body. And that’s how it has managed to survive in the wild. Many snakes and the rats are known to avoid this frog. The reason being it has shown that frog if tried to eaten by predator does not to anything other than releasing the poison. Even small percent of the poison can affect the person. So many people are avoiding the frog as much as they can. It is indeed one of the scary animal out there.

These are some of the known and scary animals that you didn’t know exists. And as you can see earth is very vast to explore.

Image by Pixabay.

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Adopt an animal – Refuse buying them

There is one major problem where i live when it comes to getting dogs or cats. This probably happens around the world but i am going to adress the problem here.

I have seen around Facebook and other social media sites people raising certain breeds of cats and dogs to sell and they are quite expensive also. Pure breeds are expensive. The thing is we have a animal shelter full of abandoned animals. Some are pure breed, others cross breed and some are just simple dogs without a breed. They are dogs (or cats) just like any other.

Why would you try and go out to find a dog to buy that is so expensive, when there are so many abandoned animals that you can go and adopt. You could change their life forever.

Yes, it is nice to have a pure breed dog but if people stop buying them, they will be forced to stop breeding or just giving the animals to people who really want them.

There was a time where my female dog would have beautiful Albino puppies, all whie, blue eyes and pink nose. I would show them around to people and they would ask me for how much i would be selling them.

Do you know what my response was? And note i could have been smart and get some cash out of selling them because it was one of a kind albino retrievers.

I told them that if they wanted one, then to go to my house and pick them up, i was giving them away. I am gald i did. I still see pictures of people with these dogs and they are in some of the best homes. Sometimes the people that have no money to buy the animals but decided to adopt are the ones that take better care of them.

I don’t regret for a minute giving them away and not selling them.

We sould have more people in the world like this. I wish to have so many pure breeds but they are expensive, so if i want a dog i am going to the kennel and adopting because they are the ones that need a home more than those that are being sold.

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Strange Animals You Won’t Believe Exist

There are plenty of animals these days which are not yet documented. For example, I came across this chipmunk who is partially looking like a bat. And it used to fly too. And they had this in color of brown. So it made me wonder what are some of the creatures out there who can get some of the odd position in nature. There must be plenty of animals which are rare to be seen these days. You can see that some of the strange creatures are around us but we choose to ignore them lately. And that does makes a lot of difference some of the time. Here in this article we take a look at some of the creatures we can’t ignore anymore assuming they are non existent.

Abyssinian ground hornbill

This horn bill looks same like the most of the birds out there. But it has more or less dinosaurs like touch. And that makes you feel like the bird is very attractive too. Because very few birds have direct resemblance to the dinosaurs. It is also one of the colorful bird. So if you are trying to find any exotic bird then maybe you should consider taking a look at this bird. That way it can be really good watch out for this bird around.

Striated frogfish

This is one of the colorful fish out there. And anyone who has fascination towards the sea creature will find this fish beautiful. In such case you should definitely take a look at this fish. It is about 8 – 9 inches long and definitely worth taking a look at. It is also one of the seriously dangerous fish out there. It is known to take down the pretty pretty easily. And it can be worth taking a look at through the video. There are some of the documentary which are documenting this creature. I’d say you should definitely take a look at the fish. You’d definitely find this fish worth looking up closely there as well.

Red-lipped batfish

I used to think that such batfish is just another Photoshop edit. But that does seem to be the case. And people who have captured this fish have released the images for the same. I think there are some of the batfish with different type of the looks. And that means this is one of the rare fish around. You should definitely google more and find out more about this type of fish. If you want to see this fish there are some of the YouTube videos out there.

Pink fairy armadillo

This is another one of the cute creature. This armadillo looks like a fairy in shape. And so the name assigned to it by scientists. Also there are some interesting things about the armadillo that makes it more exciting. It is however less in number. This in turn makes you wonder if there is any chance of variation of more of such creatures. Either way it can be really good to see how the creature looks and people have found it finally.

These are some of the creatures worth taking a look at. And you may find that these creatures are also worth protecting due to less in numbers.

Image by pixabay.

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Animals Needs to be Treated with Tender Care and Love
November 22, 2016
Animals Needs to be Treated with Tender Care and Love

Looking around it is sad but true that not many have genuine love for animals. Dogs are kept so that their property is watched and it is also considered a prestige to have pets in one’s house. They are treating as show objects. Some import them and treat them as status symbols.

One needs to have genuine love for animals that serves as an impetus to pay attention to their long neglected need. Even if one keeps dogs as status symbols they could still be loved and cared for.

One need not be a member of any club, association or trust to be able to play a role in educating those around them about the welfare of animals – just set an example

This starts in homes. Animals and pets that are kept in homes need to be given the kind of treatment they so well deserve.

It should be seen that they are provided with enough clean space, given the right kind of food, given proper health care and most important of all treated with kindness and love.

Once the home animals are given the right treatment this knowledge could be imparted to others and they could also be motivated  to care for animals in a similar manner.

We notice strays are killed.  Strays are no less than the so called pedigree. They too could be well trained.  There is no demand for females.  Females could be spayed and adopted.

Many housing societies could keep dogs to watch the property.

Keeping animals as pets is a kind of therapy that can help those with mental problems. Even normal people can benefit by keeping pets. Time spent with well behaved pets help in calming the mind which is so necessary to stay away from the hectic pace that one lives with, these days.

Animals too have emotions and it is the duty of human beings to see that their emotions are not played with.

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Bull Terrier – The Most Misunderstood Dog
October 24, 2016
Bull Terrier - The Most Misunderstood Dog

When we had decided to go in for a smaller breed after we lost our Dalmatian our eyes were set on the Bull Terrier. But we were discouraged as there were reports about the Bull Terrier being violent and ferocious. Probably there were incidents that led people to believe that. But we have a different experience.

We took a chance and brought home a pup. We named him Rana.

Rana did show signs of  being wild and we thought we had taken a wrong decision. But strangely as time went by and with our patience with him he slowly got domesticated and in fact turned out to be the most affectionate and loving pet we ever had

Rana enjoyed petting and he even wanted that we hand feed him. We did that right until his last day on earth. He shared the  bed with us and became an adorable member of the family. He was very fond

of our cat.  They were the best of friends. They just wanted each other’s company. They slept together, ate together and even played with each other. Our cat wanted him around when she had her litter. He would clean the babies and put them back in the basket. He was gentle with the kittens and they were very comfortable with him.

I therefore feel it is the way an animal is brought up rather than put the blame on their instincts. The good news is that more and more animal lovers have now become aware that a bull terrier could be the best pet to have around as they are very good with people specially children.

Here is a link that has all the details of this adorable pet


Before assuming therefore it would be good if research is done as with a bit of patience Bull Terriers could be ideal pets and so society could save them from being killed and ill treated.


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