8 Bizarre Creatures That Are Now Extinct Source:

Not that there aren’t plenty of strange and wonderful creatures roaming the planet today, but ever since geologists and paleontologists started digging up fossils and peering back into the Earth’s ancient history, they’ve been uncovering an ever-increasing variety of fantastically freakish specimens. After all, 99.9% of all the species that have ever called this planet home are now gone forever. So to keep you apprised of all the peculiar prehistoric creatures you missed out on, we’ve put together this collection of the most exotic animals to ever go extinct.

8. Woolly Rhinoceros (Coelodonta Antiquitatis)

Everyone’s heard of the woolly mammoth, so why didn’t the woolly rhinoceros ever make the same claim to fame? Perhaps it’s because, in the past, their gigantic horns have been mistaken for prehistoric bird claws. Fossils over three million years old have been dug up in parts of Asia and North Africa, with records indicating they were especially populous in Russia.

Though it’s estimated that the woolly rhino went extinct about 11,000 years ago at the start of the last ice age, 30,000-year-old cave paintings in France depicting the shaggy beasts indicate that the species survived for many centuries and were at one point hunted by primitive humans. In 2014, a 13,000-year-old spear was found in Siberia which was crafted from the horn of a woolly rhino. Source:

7. Koala Lemur (Megaladapis Edwarsi)

Since humans first set foot on Madagascar roughly 2,000 years ago, 17 known species of lemur have gone extinct. Among them was the koala lemur—a five-foot-long, 150 pound primate with a skull the size of a gorilla’s.

Though koala lemurs had large arms that looked like they were built for climbing, their bulky size would have prevented them from leaping, and they likely spent most of their lives on the ground. As such, being large, slow-moving creatures probably made them easy to hunt and contributed heavily to their extinction.

Radiocarbon dating shows that koala lemurs disappeared about 500 years ago and, although it was once thought they might be related to modern lemurs, fossil testing has since ruled out the connection. Source:

6. Deinotherium Giganteum

When looking at the bones and artist interpretations of deinotherium giganteum the first thing that strikes you is the odd placement of the tusks, which look positively absurd when compared to other common creatures we’re more familiar with. As it would happen, paleontologists aren’t even sure what they were designed for. It would seem preposterous that they be used for sparring or fending off predators because, in order for them to inflict any damage, the head would have to practically be tilted skyward. Furthermore, they look to be positioned as such that if the animal were to look too far downward it could result in it puncturing its own jugular.

One hypothesis suggests that deinotherium used its tusks to dig through the soil and unearth edible vegetation. Another proposes they might have been used to bend and break tree branches to get at the tasty leaves. In any case, they get full marks for weirdness. Source:

5. Macrauchenia

Long noses on an elephant are fine, but on any other animal it just looks kooky. Case in point, the macrauchenia. The name is derived from the Latin for “long llama” and it looks like what you might get if you crossed a camel with Gonzo from the Muppets. As if that didn’t make its appearance strange enough, macrauchenias also sported a plump torso, stumpy legs, and relatively tiny head.

The original macrauchenia fossil specimen was found by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle and, oddly enough, it isn’t actually closely related to elephants, llamas, or camels.

It’s thought that the main cause of their extinction was they were out-competed by other herbivorous animals. Source:

4. Leptictidium

First appearing an estimated 50 million years ago during a time when the Earth was very warm and humid, the leptictidium was a smaller rodent-like creature notable for its interesting combination of physical characteristics. The legs are shaped like a kangaroo’s, the tail and feet resemble a rat’s, the head and body look a lot like those of a shrew, and the fur pattern looks like it was ripped right off the back of a deer. Combined, these traits make the leptictidium look like even more of a species misfit than the duck-billed platypus.

Neverthless, this animal did seem to be pretty well-adapted to its environment when it was alive. It was one of the few mammal species that survived the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, and it lived well into the Eocene era. Their natural camouflage and speed allowed them to evade the giant carnivorous bird predators at the top of the food chain at the time, and their diverse omnivorous diet meant they could survive on insects, small lizards, and even other mammals. It’s thought that the main reason they went extinct was because, in the subsequent Oligocene era, their forest habitat shrank dramatically and was replaced by grasslands. Source:

3. Chalicothere

The best way to describe the chalicothere would be to say it looks exactly like a gorilla-horse-giraffe. Its method of knuckle-walking would have been very similar to modern day apes and their extended necks look unquestionably giraffe-like. However, the charlicothere is most closely related to today’s horses.

They evolved around 40 million years ago from smaller forest animals that were similar to horses. The beefy hind legs of the chalicothere supports much of its half-tonne body weight, and the long, less muscular front limbs boast a large set of hooked claws that were likely used for digging or stripping the leaves off of branches.

Herbivorous or not, this is one beast you probably wouldn’t want to pick a fight with. Source:

2. Hallucigenia

Not surprisingly, one of the of the most fantastically bizarre extinct creatures also happens to be one of the most scrutinized. Hallucigenia almost defies description. It looks like some sort of deadly alien caterpillar with fourteen clawed legs, triangular scales, and a series of spikes on its back. When scientists first discovered it, they literally couldn’t make head nor tail out of it. Today’s continued research hasn’t yielded much, as it’s only beginning to reveal what kind of facial features the ancient sea creature may have had. The confusion stems from a frequently occurring fossilization anomaly that tends to distort the features of the specimen. Which means that the large blob at one end many scientists have contested is the head could really turn out to be nothing more than a simple misinterpretation.

Hallucigenia lived 500 million years ago and is considered by some to be an early ancestor of living velvet worms. Source:

1. Opabinia Regalis

This extinct invertebrate looks like a shellfish that’s been exposed to too much radiation. Analysts believe the creature had five protruding eyes and a segmented body composed of downward oriented flaps and gills. Not to mention the alien-looking clawed proboscis sticking out of its face that was thought to be used for dredging up food from the ocean floor.

Strangely, opabinia completely lacked any sort of exoskeleton, which might be the reason why so few of their fossils have ever been found. The species is so weird, in fact, that taxonomists still haven’t been able to agree on an actual classification for it.

No living thing in history deserves the label “freak of nature” as much as this thing. Source:
Wes Walcott

Wes Walcott

Wes is a devourer of media. He ravenously consumes podcasts, books, and TV shows with seemingly no regard for review scores or subject matter. If encountered in the wild, Wes is said to respond positively to verbal cues relating to X-Men or the SNES. The subject can be easily captured and tamed using Transformers or Gundam models.