We have published many posts about dinosaurs and ancient creatures such as these 25 terrifying dinosaurs you’ll be glad are extinct and 25 giant prehistoric ancestors of modern day animals. Most of the time, these prehistoric creatures are depicted as being gigantic and terrifying beasts that nightmares are made of. However, not all prehistoric creatures were that scary. There might have been some dinosaurs and other creatures that looked quite harmless. To debunk the common misconception that all prehistoric creatures were frightening killing machines, we created this post with 25 Ancient Creatures That Might Not Have Been That Scary.
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One of the most famous dinosaurs ever, the Archaeopteryx lived in the Late Jurassic around 150 million years ago, in what is now southern Germany. It had sharp teeth and claws but with its miniature size (roughly the size of modern raven) and an estimated weight of just about 1 kg (2.2 lb), this dinosaurs would be absolutely harmless to humans.
The Mimni was a small herbivorous quadrupedal armored ankylosaurian that lived during the early Cretaceous Period of Australia (about 119 to 113 million years ago). It was estimated to be about 3 m (10 ft) long and weigh in some 300 kg (660 lb), which was a tiny size for a dinosaur living in this era.
Nicknamed the “shovel tusker”, the Platybelodon looked like a modern day elephant with a flat protrusion comparable to an elongated duck’s bill. With this kind of appearance, the Platybelodon would hardly be considered a scary dinosaur. Moreover, it was an herbivore that fed on aquatic vegetation.
One of the smallest dinosaur species, the Compsognathus was a small, bipedal, carnivorous theropod dinosaur that lived about 150 million years ago. Some sources suggest it was the size of a chicken while others claim it might have been slightly bigger but either way – the Compsognathus was definitely not a scary dinosaur.
The Pterodaustro is a pterosaur that used to live in South America, some 105 million years ago. This ancient creature had about a thousand bristle-like teeth protruding from its lower jaw but it used the teeth only to filter plankton and small crustaceans as it waded through shallow pools. It had an adult wingspan of approximately 250 cm (8.2 ft), about the size of some modern vultures’ wings span.
The Chaoyangsaurus was a small, marginocephalian dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China where it lived between 150.8 and 145.5 million years ago. This completely harmless and somewhat cute dinosaur measured just about 1 m (3 ft) long and was primarily herbivorous.
With adult specimens ranging only 42–83 cm long (1.38–2.72 ft) and with a weight estimated up to 1 kg (2.2 lb), the Microraptor was among the smallest known non-avian dinosaurs. Like the Archaeopteryx, the Microraptor is also regarded as an important evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs.
The Glyptodon was roughly the size of a small car but this curious, armadillo-like creature would be harmless to humans as it was a herbivore. More related to modern-day turtles than armadillos, the Glyptodon lived during the Pleistocene Epoch (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago).
Once native to what is now China, the Wannanosaurus is a dinosaur that lived about 80 million years ago. It is only known from a single partial skeleton but it is believed this species was very small and probably herbivorous or omnivorous, feeding close to the ground on a variety of plant matter, and possibly insects as well.
The Epidexipteryx is a genus of small paravian dinosaur that lived in the Middle Jurassic or Upper Jurassic age (about 160 or 168 million years ago). The only skeleton of Epidexipteryx ever found measures just 25 cm (10 in) in length, suggesting it was a very small and harmless creature.
A member of a group of unusual species known as the “Australian megafauna”, the Diprotodon is the largest marsupial that has ever lived on Earth, measuring up to 3 m (10 ft) long and weighing over 2,800 kg (6,100 lb). These gigantic marsupials would never hurt a human though, they inhabited open forest, woodlands, and grasslands where they fed on leaves, shrubs, and grasses.
With a length of about 4 m (13 ft) and a weight of 350 kg (770 lb), the Tethyshadros was a relatively small species of hadrosauroid dinosaur that once lived in modern Italy. The dinosaur might have lived on an island in then Tethys Ocean (hence the name) and its relatively small size might have been caused by so called insular dwarfism.
The Eunotosaurus is an extinct genus of reptile, possibly a close relative of turtles, from the Capitanian Stage of the late Middle Permian (265 – 260 million years ago). Once native to modern South Africa, the dinosaur is often considered as a possible “missing link” between turtles and their prehistoric ancestors.
Translated as ‘the triple-frog’, the Triadobatrachus was a frog-like amphibian that lived during the Early Triassic about 250 million years ago, in what is now Madagascar. Considered the oldest member of the frog lineage, the creature was about 10 cm (4 in) long, which would rank it above middle-sized frogs today.
There is just one, poorly preserved skeleton of the Longisquama so paleontologists know little about this small dinosaur that once lived in Central Asia. It is not even clear whether it was a prehistoric bird or something else but judging from its restored appearance, it is obvious that this dinosaur could not scare anybody.
Once endemic to South America, Megatherium was a genus of elephant-sized ground sloths. Living from the late Pliocene to the end of the Pleistocene, it was one of the largest land mammals known, weighing up to 4 tons and measuring up to 6 m (20 ft) in length. However, this giant was slow-moving and herbivorous, likely posing no threat to humans.
The only glider with a membrane surrounding the pelvis instead of the pectoral girdle, the Sharovipteryx was an early gliding reptile that lived in the middle-late Triassic period (about 225 million years ago). This bizarrely-looking reptile was just about 30 cm (1 ft) long, which makes it one of the smallest flying reptiles that have ever lived.
Sauropods were usually extremely large and heavy dinosaurs but there were several exceptions to this trend. One of them was the Europasaurus, a quadrupedal herbivore that lived during the Late Jurassic (about 154 million years ago) in modern Germany. Another example of insular dwarfism, this sauropod was 3 m (10 ft) long and weighed less than 900 kg (2,000 lb).
The Aquilops was an early herbivorous dinosaur that lived in the Early Cretaceous period (approximately 108 million to 104 million years ago) in North America. An ancestor of future ceratopsian giants such as the Triceratops, this dinosaur was completely harmless, measuring 60 cm (24 in) long and weighing 1.5 kg (3 lb).
The Kulindadromeus was a herbivorous bipedal dinosaur that lived in the Jurassic (201 – 145 million years ago) in what is now Russia. Measuring approximately 1.5 m (5 ft) in length, it had a short head, short forelimbs, long hind limbs, long tail, and it was covered in feathers.
Also known as the horned gopher, the Ceratogaulus was a small rodent that lived from the late Miocene to the early Pleistocene epoch. Similar to modern marmots, these animals were approximately 30 cm (1 ft) long, and had paddle-like forepaws with powerful claws adapted for digging. They had small eyes, and probably had poor eyesight, similar to that of a mole.
The Procoptodon was a genus of giant short-faced kangaroo living in Australia during the Pleistocene epoch. The largest species of the genus such as the Procoptodon Goliah, were up 2.7 m (8.9 ft.) tall and weighed up to 240 kg (530 lb.) but just like modern kangaroos, they were herbivores, feeding on leaves and shrubs.
Translated as “western claw”, the Hesperonychus was a small, carnivorous dinosaur known from one fossil recovered from the Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada. The creature lived in the late Cretaceous Period (about 76.5 million years ago) and it was one of the smallest known carnivorous dinosaurs from North America, weighing less than 2 kg (4.4 lb.).
The Lesothosaurus was a small, bipedal dinosaur that lived in the hot, arid conditions of what is now Lesotho and South Africa, during the Early Jurassic. Its slender but powerful legs, small arms, and long, slender tail suggest that this herbivorous dinosaur was a very fast runner.
The Shuvuuia is a genus of small, bird-like theropod dinosaur that lived in the late Cretaceous period of Mongolia. At just 60 cm (2 ft) in length, it is one of the smallest known dinosaurs. It had long hind legs and short but powerful forelimbs specialized for digging and possibly also opening insect nests.