Animals That Used To Be Giant

Millions and millions of years before humans dominated the world, it was home to the ancestors of many animals we see roaming the planet today.

However, unlike our animals, these creatures were giant – so huge that even the toughest of us all would cower in fear at the sight of them.

Animals That Used To Be Giant

Animals were so huge back then because there was a lot less living on the earth, meaning there was more oxygen to go around, thus animals were gigantic and something to be very afraid of. 

In this article, we will explore some of the animals that used to be giant! Get ready to shake in your boots. If you’re interested, read on for more! 

1. Sloths

Did you know that sloths used to be bigger than elephants? That’s right! The sloths of today are known as the couch potatoes of the animal kingdom.

They have sharp claws, but are so slow-moving and chilled out that there’s almost nothing to be afraid of. 

However, the sloths of the far past are now known as giant-ground sloths, because they were so big they could easily have gone head-to-head with a woolly mammoth. Now, that would have made Ice Age a totally different movie…

The giant sloths of the past were still herbivores, but unlike the sloths of today, they did not cling to tree branches.

Giant sloths would stand up on all four legs and then on two legs when they wanted to eat tree branches. Some of them would even dive underwater to find food! 

Giant sloths lived for a long period of time, there is even some evidence to suggest that they were still around 4,500 years ago!

2. Camels 

Camels are already large creatures, but 100,00 years ago they were even bigger! For example, the Syrian Camel of the past was 12 ft tall. That’s twice the size of a camel of today and the same size as an African elephant! 

In the far past, Syrian camels were not creatures of the desert, as it is believed that Syria was made up of grassland at the time.

It is not known why these animals became extinct but it is believed by some to be due to early humans hunting them.

Not only that but around 1 million years ago there were giant camels that lived in North America. 

3. Crocodiles

Let’s face it, the crocodiles of today are pretty scary. They can live anywhere between 70-100 years and you would not want one to get a grip on you with its teeth.

But If you think the crocodiles of today are scary, you would hate to see the crocodiles of the past! 

These fearsome creatures used to be gigantic! Breeds of crocodiles like the Machimosaurus rex had bodies over 30 ft long, while kinds like the Sarcosuchus imperator grew to be around 40 ft!

These creatures had teeth very similar to T-rex’ that you would definitely want to avoid at all costs. 

4. Beavers

There are only two types of beavers living in the world today. However, in the far past, they used to come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes.

Back then, beavers were as impressive engineers as they are today. They used to dig many spiral burrows using their teeth.

Giant beavers were said to be as big as today’s black bears. The biggest kind of beaver was known as Castoroides, and they were around 10 ft long and weighed around 500 lbs. Their teeth were said to be as big as bananas! 

There is also some evidence to suggest that the giant beavers of the past built dams, just like the beavers of today. They went extinct around 10,000 years ago. 

5. Insects 

There were so many giant insects back in the day, it’s hard to keep track! For example,l there used to be giant dragonflies that soared through the skies with wings as big as the wings of seagulls.

There were 6 ft scorpions that wandered the ocean floors that snapped at anything lingering close to them for too long. There were also arthropods, such as Arthropleura, which were similar to the millipedes of today.

These creatures were 1 ft wide and had armored 6 ft bodies. 

Even though they only ate the dead matter of plants, you still wouldn’t want one of these huge creatures to cross your path! 

6. Sharks

The sharks of the far past would make dealing with the shark from Jaws look like a walk in the park. And, to be honest, I think most of us would jump at the chance to face off with the latter shark instead of these giant creatures. 

The Megalodon was probably one of the scariest creatures to ever swim in the seas. It was so big it could eat great white sharks in one bite. Megalodons were around 50 ft long and loved to eat whales. 

Megalodons went extinct around 2 million years ago, possibly due to the cooling of water temperatures and competition from other predators, such as orcas.

Animals That Used To Be Giant (1)

7. Salamanders

Salamanders are often confused for lizards, but they’re actually more closely related to frogs! Many people see the salamanders of today as adorable little creatures, but it was a different story around 200 million years ago. 

In the far past, the earth was the home of 6 ft-long salamanders, and they had heads around the size of the average coffee table.

The salamander more commonly called the Metoposaurus lived during the Triassic period with many of the dinosaurs, but it went extinct far before they did. 

In fact, these salamanders were only around for a short period of time, which is a shame, because, from a great, great, safe distance, they would have been an amazing sight to see!

8. Rats

Not many people hold love for the rodents of today, so we cannot imagine anyone holding the rodents from the past in high esteem, either.

The rats of the past were bigger than today’s bulls. These giant rats, also known as Josephoartigasia monesi, could be found in what is now South America. 

These giant rats actually looked pretty similar to capybaras, but they could easily go up against a capybara and win. Giant rats had very sharp teeth and weighed at least 2,000 lbs.

Their teeth would have primarily been used to fight off predators and chew their favorite aquatic plants. 

9. Snakes

It is said that around ⅓ of the world’s population has a fear of snakes, and we think the snakes of the past may bring that statistic much higher.

In the far past, there was a snake that roamed the earth known as Titanoboa cerrejonesis. There is fossil evidence to suggest that this snake weighed at least 2,000 lbs and grew to be over 40 ft long. 

These giant snakes could eat pretty much whatever they wanted, and many other animals would struggle to survive if going up against one, even many of the giant creatures on this list!

This snake liked to eat giant turtles and crocodiles. However, it died out due to the changing climates. 

10. Cheetahs

There is only one species of cheetah remaining on the planet today and it is representative of one of the fastest creatures alive. However, there is fossilized evidence to suggest that other, more gigantic cheetahs once roamed the planet.

From the evidence presented to us, this cheetah weighed around 220 lbs, double the weight of cheetahs around today. Not only that, but it is likely that these giant cats ate any mammal sized between an antelope and a horse.

Cheetahs of the past were killers that are estimated to have killed and eaten 16,500 lbs of prey annually. That’s a lot!  

11. Otters

Giant otters could be found in modern-day China, 6.2 million years ago. They were the size of the average wolf of today and twice the size of the otter from the South American rivers.

They weighed around 110 lbs and used to swim around swamps on the hunt for shellfish and other food. It would then use its teeth to crack open the shellfish and eat whatever was inside. 

12. Penguins

Of course, the emperor penguin is the largest penguin around today, coming in at 3ft tall. However, this is nothing in comparison to the penguins of the far past, which used to be around 6 ft tall and weighed around 220 lbs!

These penguins were as tall as the average refrigerator! These penguins lived around 55-59 million years ago and likely speared fish as a way to get food.

 However, 61 million years ago, there were even bigger penguins! These penguins of the far past grew to be 6.5 ft tall and weighed 250 lbs, what an amazing sight that would have been!

Final Thoughts 

Back in the far, far past, there were fewer creatures on the planet, meaning there was more oxygen to go around and many animals were giants!

From otters (Also check out Different Types Of Otters) to insects to snakes, these creatures were a sight to behold (and some, run away from!)

Olivia Kepner