We have already published a few posts about dinosaurs, the largest creatures that have ever roamed on Earth but in fact, in the prehistoric era, almost all animals as well as plants were much bigger than their modern counterparts. From an elephant-size sloth to a car-size armadillo, check out these 25 giant prehistoric ancestors that would make their contemporary relatives look like dwarfs.
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These days, the polar bear and the Kodiak bear are considered the largest species of bear, both of them weighing as much as 1500 pounds (680 kg), which is an impressive size but compared to the short-faced bear, these are still lightweight. This extinct bear inhabited North America during the Pleistocene epoch until 11,000 years ago and was – when standing on its hind legs – up to 12 feet (3.7 m) tall. Moreover its estimated to have weighed over 3,000 pounds (1360 kg).
While today, the largest eagle species of eagles such as the Philippine, harpy or wedge-tailed eagle usually weigh up to 15 pounds (6.7 kg) and have wingspans of up to 7 feet (about 213 cm), the Haast´s eagle was considerably larger. Once native to New Zealand where it became extinct some 600 years ago, this raptor could weigh more than 35 pounds (16 kg), and though it had a relatively short wingspan for their size, it was still much longer than the one of the modern eagles.
We currently know 5 different species of tapir that range in size from 330 to 700 pounds (150-300 kg) but from the Middle Pleistocene to about 4,000 years ago, there was a creature called megatapirus that was bigger, considerably heavier and more massive. Living in today’s China and Vietnam, the extinct prehistoric tapir may have weighed up to 1,100 pounds (500 kg).
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 20 feet (6 m) in length. Scientists suggest that Megatherium was capable of bipedal locomotion and had a long tongue used for putting leaves into its mouth.
There are three known species of wombats today, ranging in weight from 44 to 77 pounds (20 – 35 kg) and usually reaching a length of less than 40 inches (1 m). It’s hard to believe that these cute marsupials native to Australia evolved from a creature the size of a rhinoceros. Diprotodon, a member of a group of unusual species collectively called the “Australian megafauna” and the largest marsupial ever, was up to 10 feet (over 3 m) long and weighed over 6,100 pounds (almost 2800 kg).