Did These 6 Animals Truly Go Extinct?

Did These 6 Animals Truly Go Extinct?

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Number 6: Megatherium
The Megatherium, also known as the giant ground sloth, is one of the largest mammals to have
ever roamed the Earth. It was about the size of a modern elephant
and surpassed in its time only by some mammoth species. It measured up to 20 feet from head to tail. The Megatherium had powerful hind legs and
a muscular tail, which together would often form a tripod, enabling the herbivore to reach
taller tree branches. Stumbling upon this giant sloth as it reached
for food would’ve undoubtedly been a terrifying sight for the early humans with whom it shared
its habitat. Aside from its colossal size, it had curved
claws which were so big that the beast actually had to walk on the sides of its feet. Based on the estimated strength and mechanical
adaptation of its biceps, experts suspect that the Megatherium was able to use the claws
on its forelimbs like deadly daggers. It was capable of taking out saber-toothed
cats as well as glyptodonts, which were basically giant versions of armadillos. The Megatherium was native to the woodlands
and grasslands of South America, where populations thrived until about 8,500 BC. It’s believed that their extinction was
a combination of habitat fragmentation and the rising population of human hunters. Yet some have entertained the possibility
that the giant ground sloth didn’t die out but simply retreated to the most secluded
parts of the Amazon rainforest. There’s a creature in Brazilian folklore,
said to live deep in the jungle, which seems to resemble the giant ground sloth. It’s called Mapinguari and the claim is
that it has “backward-facing feet” reminiscent of the Megatherium’s knuckle walk, and stands
at over 10 feet tall. Despite massive deforestation, the jungle
still covers roughly 2.1 million square miles. There are parts of the Amazon that remain
untouched by modern humans and it’s perhaps within these areas that some of the last Megatherium
species have found refuge. It’s unlikely, however, that a slow-moving
creature of such proportions could’ve eluded humans for nearly 10,000 years. Number 5: Megalodon
In the animal kingdom, particularly when it comes to large predators, jaw power is one
of the most important aspects. Hyper-carnivores rely on a combination of
size, speed and bite force. Judging by such criteria, the prehistoric
Megalodon is perhaps the most striking example of an apex predator. It has inhabited a wide variety of marine
environments, from tropical to temperate latitudes, up until 3.6 million years ago. At the upper estimates of its size, this monstrous
shark weighed more than 60 tons and measured over 50 feet. It’s believed to have been a robust shark
and most likely looked like a giant version of today’s great white. The Megalodon possessed arguably the strongest
bite of any creature in history at an estimated 41,000 pounds of force. Judging by reconstructions of its jaws, which
measured up to 6.6 feet across, it’s not hard to understand why this creature was so
dominant. The Megalodon had over 250 teeth distributed
in 5 rows. They were large, robust and serrated, perfectly
adapted for cutting through bone and flesh as the massive shark shook its head. It was at the top of the food chain, probably
only facing competition from Livyatan, a genus of huge predatory toothed whales. It’s believed that the Megalodon went extinct
from a combination of climate cooling and the extinction of its prey. Some experts argue that they were simply outcompeted
by other predators, perhaps even great whites. Then there’s the terrifying hypothesis that
the Megalodon didn’t go extinct but simply adapted to living in the deep for longer periods
of time. It seems to fall in line with other shark-related
discoveries. The megamouth shark was discovered as recently
as 1976 and one of the largest great whites, nicknamed “Deep Blue”, was first recorded
in 2013. The HMS Challenger discovered Megalodon teeth
in 1873, which were dated from 11,000 to 24,000 years ago but the analysis may have been erroneous. From time to time, there’ll be reports of
whales slaughtered by unknown predators, giant shark sightings or fishermen reporting huge
shadows moving in the deep. Yet, most experts agree that if a creature
the size of the Megalodon was still around today, the world would know about it. That being said, with less than 95% of the
world’s ocean having been explored, the potential existence of the monstrous shark
still entertains peoples’ imagination. Were the beast still around, in the context
of global warming, the ocean could rise in temperature to slowly re-accustom it to coastal
waters. That wouldn’t bode well for the human population
in those areas, since the largest Megaladon specimens can basically take down small vessels. Unarmed swimmers wouldn’t stand a chance
against the beast and even with the help of modern technology we’d sometimes have trouble
defending against it. Additionally, a potential re-emergence of
the Megalodon would likely bring the ocean’s cetacean population to the brink of extinction. Number 4: Gigantopithecus
Bigfoot is arguably one of the most popular cryptids in the world. Cryptids are creatures whose existence is
disputed or unsubstantiated. Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, has been
the subjects of numerous alleged sightings as well as several hoaxes. Throughout the years, most scientists have
discounted its existence while those who believe Bigfoot to be real have often explained it
as a potential missing link between humans and our ape ancestors. Most depictions of Bigfoot refer to a large,
hairy ape-like creature which is capable of standing upright and bipedal locomotion. One veterinary laboratory, called DNA Diagnostics,
issued claims in 2012 that they’ve found evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. The creature was described as a hybrid of
the modern Homo sapiens and an unknown primate species. It supposedly arose about 15,000 years ago. The head of the laboratory registered the
name Homo sapiens cognatus and claimed that governments should recognize their human rights
against those who would do them harm. The study was reviewed by geneticists who
considered it to be unconvincing at best. Of the few qualified anthropologists and scientists
who have reviewed the Bigfoot hypothesis, a number agree that the elusive cryptids may
actually be a relic population of Gigantopithecus. These primates were still around as recently
as 100,000 years ago, which would place them within the same time frame and geographical
location as several hominin species. One subspecies, Gigantopithecus blacki, is
known as the largest primate to have ever lived. Estimates of its size suggest it stood from
6′ 6” to 10′ tall and weighed between 660 and 1,320 pounds. This does seem to fall in line with some Bigfoot
sightings. However, the problem is that no Gigantopithecus
fossils have been found in the Americas, where a large number of Bigfoot sightings have occurred. Nevertheless, scientists supporting the theory
of Bigfoot as Gigantopithecus claim the animal could’ve migrated. Like a number of other animals, including
humans, it could’ve used the Bering land bridge, which connected Alaska and Siberia. For most scientists, however, Gigantopithecus
is still regarded as extinct. Climate change during the Pleistocene era
turned plant ecosystems from forest to savanna. The primate’s primary food supply of fruits
thus decreased. Competition with Homo erectus may have also
been a factor, which diminished the supply of food such as bamboo. Number 3: Titanoboa
When European conquistadors arrived to South America, they would hear tales of monstrous
snakes that measured over 50 feet in length. The locals would speak of creatures that moved
through the rivers and snatched unsuspecting people from the shores. Nowadays, tropical South America is home to
the green anaconda, the largest snake in the animal kingdom. When it comes to sightings of gigantic serpents,
it does seem a likely candidate. Yet, even though this predatory snake can
reach some truly impressive proportions, it pales in comparison to the Titanoboa. A native of present-day La Guajira, in Colombia,
the Titanoboa was at one point among the planet’s largest animals. It weighed around 2,500 pounds and could grow
to be over 42 feet long. At its thickest, it boasted 3 feet in diameter,
thus dwarfing the anaconda or various python species. Its teeth were small and sharp while the color
of its skin ranged from dark brown to gray. This creature seems to better correspond with
the stories spread among early European explorers. The only problem is that the Titanoboa lived
58 to 60 million years ago in what was South America’s first recorded tropical forest. The gigantic snake emerged immediately after
the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which marked the disappearance of all large
dinosaur species. No one knows for sure how it ultimately went
extinct but the most prominent theory has to do with declining global temperatures that
affected its metabolism. Nevertheless, there are legends of titanic
serpents swimming in the depths of the Amazon which persist to this day. Indigenous tribes speak of the Yacumama, also
known as the “Mother of the Water”, and alleged sightings emerge every so often. The murky waters of the Amazon would provide
enough cover for the Titanoboa to carry out its existence in peace. At first it was suspected to have been an
apex predator, but based on an analysis of its cranial features, researchers now believe
that it mostly ate fish. This means that it wouldn’t necessarily
need to compete with the larger anaconda species. Even if it’s truly extinct, that doesn’t
mean that the Titanoboa, or a snake of similar proportions, won’t one day populate the
river basin. It’s believed that during the Titanoboa’s
era, the Earth was warmer. This aspect facilitated the growth of cold-blooded
snakes. As the planet once again seems to be rising
in temperature, it’s conceivable that at one point, far in the future, giant snakes
will make a comeback. Number 2: Sauropod
Sauropods were, as far as we know, the largest land animals to have ever roamed the Earth. These beasts were so massive that the ground
shook when they walked. To assume these beasts are still around would
require several leaps in imagination. The last of them, the titanosaurs, would’ve
had to survive the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. Assuming they did so and retained their enormous
size, it would be really difficult for them to simply walk around undetected. That being said, there were reports early
in the 20th century of a creature fairly reminiscent of a sauropod living in remote areas of Africa. Indigenous tribes in Rhodesia described it
as “half dragon, half elephant”. This would account for the sauropod’s pillar-like
legs as well as for their long necks. Famous big game hunter Carl Hagenbeck concluded
that the creature was similar to the brontosaurus, arguably one of the most famous sauropod species. Other reports spoke of a river monster called
Mokele-mbembe and its features were also consistent with those of sauropods. Mokele-mbembe was reported as being at least
as large as a hippo. It had smooth skin, a very long and flexible
neck as well as a large, muscular tail. Like all sauropod species, it exclusively
fed on plants. The beast supposedly lived in caves washed
out by the river and climbed to the shore during the day to find food. When some members of indigenous tribes were
shown pictures of various sauropods, they pointed to them as being Mokele-mbembe. Number 1: Mammoth
It’s become somewhat common knowledge that there were still mammoths roaming the Earth
when the Egyptians started building the Great Pyramid of Giza. At the time, roughly 3,700 to 4,000 years
ago, some wooly mammoths were still living on what is today Wrangel Island in Russia. The giant beast was covered in fur and well-suited
to the cold of the last ice age. It was the last to emerge in a line of mammoth
species. It’s one of the best studied prehistoric
creatures and the discovery of frozen carcasses in Siberia and Alaska has been instrumental
in understanding the animal. It was also heavily depicted in prehistoric
art in the form of cave paintings, engravings or sculptures. It was hunted by both Neanderthals and modern
humans. Wooly mammoth bones were used to make dwellings,
tools, furniture and musical instruments. Climate change greatly reduced their habitats
and it’s believed that humans hunted the remaining populations into extinction. Much like with our previous entries, there’s
no concrete evidence to suggest that the wooly mammoth might still be around. Nevertheless, there have been claims that
isolated herds still live in secluded parts of the Northern Hemisphere tundra. In the 19th century, Siberian herdsmen would
report to Russian authorities sightings of “large shaggy beasts”. Towards the end of the century, one hunter
claimed to have killed a mammoth in Alaska and then to have donated it to the Smithsonian,
but the museum denied the claim. In the 1920s there were reports of furry elephants
from a Russian trapper. When considering the sheer immensity of Siberia,
at 5.1 million square miles, the notion of these massive beasts still roaming the land
can’t be completely ruled out. Yet, the real reason the wooly mammoth is
at the top of our list is that it’s among the prehistoric creatures that might one day
be brought back. There are roughly 150 million mammoths buried
in Siberia’s permafrost, waiting to be discovered. One frozen specimen, found in 2013, had well-preserved
muscle tissue and liquid blood in its abdominal cavity. This would suggest that the animal’s blood
had anti-freezing properties. Through advances in molecular biology and
genetic engineering, such biological material can reportedly be used to recreate living
mammoths. Some experts believe that one option would
eventually be to create an elephant-mammoth hybrid, since their genomes match 99%. Although the projects currently in development
still have a long way to go, mankind might eventually witness the return of the wooly
mammoth. Thanks for watching! Which creature from prehistory would YOU like
to see populate the planet once more? Let us know in the comments section below!

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