Interesting Extinct Animal Facts

There have been many amazing, strange, and some almost unbelievable animals that once roamed the earth but are now extinct. On this page we list 10 of these extinct animals with a few facts about each. This information, written for kids and adults, includes when they lived, what made them so amazing, any why some of them were scary.

List of Interesting Extinct Animals

  1. Meganeura - this giant dragonfly was one of the largest flying insect species ever. This animal's wingspan measured an incredible 25.6 inches (65 centimeters). This huge creature lived during the Carboniferous Period which lasted from about 359 to 299 million years ago.
  2. Smilodon - (Sabertooth Tiger) is one of the most famous prehistoric predators. The largest species Smilodon populator, which inhabited South America, weighed up to 1,102 pounds (500 kilograms). This extinct cat was an apex predator; it was incredibly powerful, had long claws, and of course extremely long fangs that could measure 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length. It went extinct approximately 10,000 years ago.
  3. Jaekelopterus rhenaniae - this giant sea scorpion is estimated to have measured over 8 feet (2.44 meters) long. It terrorized rivers and lakes some 390 million years ago.
  4. Argentavis magnificens - the "magnificent Argentine bird" is one of the largest flying birds ever. Its wingspan was an amazing 23 feet (7 meters). It lived over five million years ago in the late Miocene Period. Its fossil remains have been discovered in northwestern and central Argentina.
  5. Arctodus simus - is named the "Giant Bear", and for good reason; standing on all fours it was tall enough to look a person of average height square in the eyes. Standing on its hind legs a large member of this species reached up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) high. They lived up until about 11,000 years ago and were very abundant in North America, especially California. They are the largest known mammalian land-predator ever.
  6. Sarcosuchus - ("flesh crocodile") is one of the largest crocodile-like animals that ever roamed the earth. At up to 39 feet (11.9 meters) long it makes modern day crocodiles look small. This extinct animal lived around 112 million years ago in the tropical swamps of what is now South America and Africa.
  7. Dunkleosteus - was a huge armored fish that lived from 380 to 360 million years ago. It was one of the scariest fish ever. It reached lengths of 33 feet (10 meters) and could weight over 3.5 tons (3,175 kilograms). Making it even scarier was it beak-like razor sharp jaws.
  8. Acinonyx pardinensis - this giant cheetah was related to the modern day Cheetah and looked a lot like it, but it was much bigger. At between 265 and 331 pounds (120 - 150 kilograms) it was as large as a modern day lioness. At this size and with its remarkable speed it was a dangerous predator of the Middle Pleistocene period.
  9. Pulmonoscorpius kirktonensis - was a giant Scorpion that roamed the earth approximately 340 million years ago in what is today Scotland. At over 27 inches long (68.58 centimeters) it was much larger that modern day scorpions.
  10. Gigantopithecus - was the largest ape that ever lived. This beast stood 10 feet high (3 meters) and weighed around 1,190 pounds (540 kilograms). It inhabited what is now China, Vietnam, and India and died out around 100,000 years ago.