10 Weird Critters That Lived Alongside the Dinosaurs

10 Weird Critters That Lived Alongside the Dinosaurs

The reign of the dinosaurs on Earth was a prolonged one. For about 165 million years, they dominated each continent, and at the moment they’ve conquered our imaginations. However they have been removed from the one animals on Earth. They shared their world with many species simply as extraordinary as they have been, just a few you will not be conscious of.

And with that, there shall be no Archosaurs on this record. The time period “Archosaur” refers back to the clade by which dinosaurs belong, alongside their fashionable counterparts, birds and crocodilians. However they was once much more various, together with the likes of the flying pterosaurs and a few historical marine reptiles. The whole lot else is honest sport.

It’s exhausting to say when precisely the primary dinosaurs appeared, with estimates starting from 250 to 235 million years in the past. The primary true non-avian dinosaurs appeared round 243 million years in the past and went extinct 66 million years in the past. Any species that would have moderately existed inside this timeframe has an opportunity of being included.

Now, allow us to make a journey by way of time to take a look at some very bizarre critters!

Associated: High 10 Dinosaur Fossils Frozen In Time

10 The Kind-of Turtle

Sinosaurosphargis yunguiensis lived in what’s now southwestern China 243 million years in the past. And it appears to be like similar to any turtle ought to, full with the broadened ribcage. Nevertheless, in contrast to many fashionable turtles, that are protected by very giant hardened scales alongside their again, historical turtle “shells” usually consisted of a large number of smaller osteoderms—scale-like bony deposits on the pores and skin.

Besides Sinosaurosphargis was notably not a turtle. It shared the turtle’s frequent ancestor, actually. Nevertheless it had break up off from that lineage hundreds of thousands of years earlier than the primary “true” turtles began appearing.

Curiously, those self same bony coverings on this species threw a little bit of a wrench into the concepts about turtle shell evolution, because it was one thing that the precise ancestral turtles notably lacked.[1]

9 The Not-Fairly-First Mammal

Skittering concerning the arid floor of Late-Triassic France 200 million years in the past, the tiny Megazostrodon may very well be mistaken for a bizarre rat or shrew. However this little critter holds numerous significance for a lot of paleontologists.

This little man is taken into account a transitional kind between the mammal-ish cynodonts and the true mammals, making it one of the crucial important discoveries within the examine of mammal evolution. Even so, the place precisely it suits into the mammalian household tree stays considerably controversial, as does the controversy surrounding when precisely mammals really turned mammals.

Megazostrodon was in all probability a lot too busy consuming bugs to think about its moderately convoluted place on the earth, nonetheless.[2]

8 The Tuatara

Okay, okay, I do know I’m technically dishonest on this one. I’m not really referring to the trendy tuatara—Sphenodon punctatus—however moderately the entire Order of Sphenodontia. As a result of I couldn’t carry myself to decide on only one species.

The Sphenodontids have been properly established by the early Jurassic, slightly below 200 million years in the past, and have been as soon as very a really various group. They have been half of a bigger group known as the Rhynchocephalians, the sister group to the Squamates (fashionable lizards and snakes). They have been basically a various group of not-quite-lizards, very related in design however distinct sufficient to be classed individually.

Sadly, although, all of the Rhynchocephalians besides for only one genus—Sphenodon—finally declined and went extinct hundreds of thousands of years in the past. Solely the tuatara stays, now threatened by human exercise.[3]

7 The Fish Lizard

The ichthyosaurs (actually “fish lizard”) have been a really various group of marine reptiles that emerged some 250 million years in the past.

For the needs of this record, although, I’m together with the dolphin-like Stenopterygius, which lived roughly 180 million years in the past. The explanation for this alternative is a very well-preserved specimen that exhibits simply how bizarre these creatures have been.

This specimen not solely preserved traces of pigment within the pores and skin but additionally a layer of blubber beneath. Whereas not conclusively warm-blooded, the discover is additional proof that these creatures did regulate their very own physique temperatures to some extent, an necessary trait for a reptile that often dove to the ocean’s depths.

At one level, the ichthyosaurs might have been among the apex predators of the Mesozoic seas. However, finally, they went extinct round 90 million years in the past, 25 million years earlier than the non-avian dinosaurs did.[4]

6 The Beaver-Otter

Castorocauda lutrasimilis is one instance of how nature tends to simply use the identical design motif time and again. A lot of its physique was actually fairly much like that of the trendy beaver, from the flattened, scaly tail to its little webbed toes.

This was no primordial rodent, nonetheless. As a substitute, its slender cranium was fitted with many needle-sharp tooth well-suited for catching fish, not in contrast to fashionable otters. Curiously, the fur of this 164-million-year-old critter can be remarkably much like that of recent aquatic mammals, replete with guard hairs and a thick undercoat.

Not like most fashionable mammals, Castorocauda doubtless laid eggs, main some to counsel its life-style might have resembled that of the trendy platypus.[5]

5 The Lengthy Lizard

The origin of snakes and the lack of their limbs stays one of the crucial contentious debates throughout the paleontological neighborhood. So when a fossil of a Brazilian serpentine reptile someway emerged in Germany beneath questionable circumstances (contemplating that it’s been unlawful to export fossils from the nation since 1942) and was examined, many have been understandably ecstatic.

See, most primitive snakes recognized to science have been typically already partially transitioned to limblessness, possessing no multiple set of limbs. This was completely different. So lastly discovering a four-limbed snake really would have been earth-shattering.

Nevertheless it was to not be. This was Tetrapodophis amplectus, which lived in the course of the Early Cretaceous some 120 million years in the past. And it actually was only a very lengthy lizard, not a snake in any respect.

That’s to not say that this critter added nothing to the controversy, although. Tetrapodophis was a burrower, and the construction of its tiny limbs has usually been in comparison with these of recognized primitive snakes. It’s now thought that snakes finally misplaced their limbs to develop into more proficient burrowers as this little lizard did.[6]

4 Historical Platypus

Sure, they get even weirder.

Trendy monotremes descend from a really outdated lineage, although it’s not very clearly recognized how outdated. Estimates for the timing of the break up from different fashionable mammal lineages differ anyplace from the Early Triassic to Jurassic intervals. Nonetheless, the oldest-known platypus relative, Teinolophos trusleri, might be positioned comfortably into the Early Cretaceous about 120 million years in the past. After that, many different associated species have been fast to comply with.

Sadly, most of those fossils are incomplete. Even so, it has been prompt that the traits that make the trendy platypus so dang bizarre discovered their begin right here. Although just one species of platypus stays at the moment, they have been as soon as a really various group whose attain even prolonged past Australia, because it did with the South American Monotrematum sudamericanum.

Additionally, one enjoyable reality! One other very unusual critter, the echidna, really break up off from a platypus relative anyplace from 20 to 50 million years in the past (and even earlier than that).[7]

3 The Antarctic Sea Dragon

Not too long ago featured in BBC’s Prehistoric Planet, Kaikaifilu hervei was the king of the Late Cretaceous Antarctic seas 66 million years in the past.
Kaikaifilu was a mosasaur, a marine reptile most carefully associated to fashionable lizards and snakes. Extra particularly, Kaikaifilu was a form of tylosaurine mosasaur, which meant it had an extended, extra serpentine physique than the comparatively cumbersome mosasaurine mosasaurs.

Its estimated size was a formidable 33 toes (10 meters) lengthy, the biggest from the South Pole, and it was doubtless the apex predator of the area. Its reign wouldn’t final lengthy, nonetheless, because the mosasaurs all died out on the finish of the Cretaceous.[8]

2 The “Loopy Beast”

Adalatherium hui actually needed to have made a powerful impression on its discoverers to be given its identify. And I guarantee you, it did.

Utilizing the phrases of lead researcher David Krause: “Understanding what we all know concerning the skeletal anatomy of all dwelling and extinct mammals, it’s troublesome to think about {that a} mammal-like Adalatherium might have advanced; it bends and even breaks numerous guidelines.”

That is all to say that this Madagascan critter from 66 million years in the past was actually, actually bizarre.

For starters, it had extra holes in its cranium than another mammal. It had unusual tooth in contrast to these of another mammal. It had extra vertebrae than any modern mammal. Additionally, researchers had one heck of a time attempting to determine the way it walked as a result of “the entrance half… doesn’t match the again half.”

And this seven-pound (3-kilogram) weirdo was in all probability nonetheless a child![9]

1 Primates

Okay, I is perhaps dishonest slightly once more.

Technically, one of many earliest primates (or maybe one of many earliest direct predecessors), Purgatorius janisae, is understood solely from fossils relationship to simply after the Cretaceous extinction occasion. Nevertheless, research have prompt that the genus is probably going a lot older, maybe relationship again to roughly 81 million years in the past. So I really feel no guilt.

Purgatorius, to place it flippantly, regarded like somebody combined up a ferret and a squirrel. Nevertheless it additionally possessed the versatile ankle and wrist joints that might develop into a staple in later primates, permitting it to thrive within the treetops and much above most predators.

And issues would solely get crazier for primates from right here.[10]

Initially Revealed by – Jamie Frater

Authentic Supply –

What do you think?


Written by Harry Rosen

Harry Rosen is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author.

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