Ruling our planet as the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million years, dinosaurs were the largest creatures that ever inhabited Earth. The biggest sauropod dinosaurs may have achieved lengths of 190 feet and heights of over 30 feet, which is, in modern terms, an incredible size. Not all dinosaurs were that large; there were creatures just about 20 inches long but even these little beasts usually looked scary. From the little known Mapusarous to the legendary Tyrannosaurus Rex, check out these 25 terrifying dinosaurs.
Gorgosaurus is a genus of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in western North America during the Late Cretaceous period. It was a bipedal predator weighing more than two tons as an adult. Living in a lush floodplain environment, it was an apex predator preying upon abundant ceratopsids and hadrosaurs.
Living in the Late Cretaceous period, Dracorex was a herbivorous dinosaur characterized with spiky horns, bumps, and a long muzzle. The best preserved fossil specimen was discovered in South Dakota by three amateur paleontologists in 2004. The specimen was most likely a young adult, approximately 10 feet long.
Triceratops is a genus of herbivorous dinosaur that first appeared during late Cretaceous period, about 68 million years ago in what is now North America. Bearing a large bony frill, three horns, and conjuring similarities with the modern rhinoceros, Triceratops is one of the most recognizable of all dinosaurs. They are estimated to have reached up to 30 feet in length, 10 feet in height, and up to 12 tons in weight.
Named after the leader of the Greek Titans, Cronus, Kronosaurus was among the largest marine reptiles that ever lived on Earth. Measuring about 30–33 feet in length, it had an elongated head, a short neck, a stiff body propelled by four flippers, and a relatively short tail. Kronosaurus was carnivorous with many long, sharp, conical teeth.
Dating back to the very end of the Cretaceous Period, Ankylosaurus was a large dinosaur occurring in today´s North America. The creature was notable for its heavily armored body and massive bony tail club. It’s estimated to have reached 30 feet in length and weighed up to 6 tons.
Belonging to the Pliosauroidea, a clade of short-necked plesiosaurs, Liopleurodon was the apex predator of the Middle to Late Jurassic seas that covered today´s Europe. The largest species is estimated to be up to 21 feet in length. Its four strong paddle-like limbs suggest that Liopleurodon was a powerful swimmer.
Giganotosaurus is a genus of large bipedal dinosaurs that lived in what is now Argentina during the early Cenomanian age of the Late Cretaceous period. They were some of the largest known terrestrial carnivores, with known individuals equaling or slightly bigger than the size of Tyrannosaurus. Scientists suggest Giganotosaurus could run as fast as 31 miles per hour.
With a wingspan of up to incredible 40 feet, this giant pterosaur was the largest creature ever to fly, modern birds included. However, the size and mass estimates for these huge beasts are extremely problematic because no existing species share a similar size or body plan, and in consequence published results vary widely. One of the distinctive features common to all the specimens is unusually long, stiffened neck.
Ichthyosaurus was a large marine reptile that first appeared approximately 250 million years ago. They were particularly abundant in the later Triassic and early Jurassic Period, until they were replaced as the top aquatic predators by another marine reptilian group, the Plesiosauria. Ichthyosaur species varied from 3 to over 50 feet in length. They resembled both modern fish and dolphins with their limbs fully transformed into flippers.
Commonly known as T-Rex, Tyrannosaurus was the largest known tyrannosaurid and one of the largest known land predators. The most famous dinosaur lived throughout what is now western North America in the upper Cretaceous Period. The most complete specimen was up to 40 feet long, up to 13 feet high, and weighed up to 7 tons. Its extremely powerful jaws are estimated to be capable of exerting one of the largest bite forces among all terrestrial animals ever living on Earth.
Moschops is an extinct genus of therapsid that lived in the Guadalupian epoch, around 265–260 million years ago. This odd creature may have reached lengths of up to 20 feet and weight of a few tons, making it the biggest and dominant land animal and of its time. Despite its massive body proportion and strong jaws, it is believed that Moschops was a herbivore feeding on nutrient-poor and tough vegetation.
Weighing about 1500 pounds, Utahraptor belongs among the largest raptors. Oddly, Utahraptor lived in the upper Barremian stage of the early Cretaceous period, i.e. a few tens of millions of years before its more famous (and smaller) cousins such as Velociraptor. The first specimens of this creature were found in 1975 in the Dalton Wells Quarry in east-central Utah.
At one time called “mammal-like reptiles”, these scary beasts were the dominant predators during the late Permian period. They had a set of deadly saber-teeth (some species had two sets of them) which they used when hunting some of the largest Permian herbivores, often the size of rhinos or bigger.
Living in the early part of the Jurassic Period, Plesiosaurus was a large marine reptile. Although there are a number of modern-day myths surrounding this order of creature, such as the myth of the Loch Ness monster, these creatures are known to be extinct. Fossil remains of this animal, including nearly complete skeletons, have been found in England.
Allosaurus is a genus of large, bipedal theropod dinosaur that lived 155 to 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic period. It was a typical large theropod, having a massive skull on a short neck, strong jaws with long sharp teeth, long tail and reduced forelimbs. Being at the top of the food chain, it was probably preying on contemporaneous large herbivorous dinosaurs and perhaps even other predators.
With home to what is now western North America, this genus of armored dinosaur lived during the Late Jurassic period, some 155 to 150 million years ago. Due to its distinctive tail spikes and plates, Stegosaurus is one of the most recognizable and popular dinosaurs. In spite of its terrifying appearance and huge size, it was a herbivore, most likely feeding on low-lying bushes and shrubs.
Colloquially known as terror birds, these pre-historical creatures are an extinct clade of large carnivorous flightless birds that were the largest species of apex predators in South America during the Cenozoic, 62–2 million years ago. Terror birds were up to 10 feet high, weighed up to half a ton and supposedly could run as fast as cheetah.
Mapusuaurus was a giant carnosaurian dinosaur existing in the early Late Cretaceous stage. Occupying area of today´s Argentina, it is thought to be similar in size to its close relative Giganotosaurus, with the largest known individuals estimated as over 33 feet in length and weighing approximately 3 tons.
This extinct genus of entelodont artiodactyl was endemic to Eurasia. A prehistoric pig relative, Entelodon was a carnivore and possibly one of the most monstrous-looking mammals ever. Armed with powerful jaws and sharp teeth, these creatures were quite successful, existing for about 9 million years.
Spinosaurus is a genus of theropod dinosaur which lived in what is now North Africa, from the lower Albian to lower Cenomanian stages of the Cretaceous period. Spinosaurus may be the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, possibly larger than Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus. Estimates published suggest that it was up to 60 feet in length and up to 20 tons in weight. Evidence suggests that it lived both on land and in water like a modern crocodilian and fed on fish.
As the name suggest, this genus of sauropod dinosaur was first discovered in Argentina. Measuring over 130 feet and weighing about 70 tons, Argentinosaurus is among the largest known dinosaurs. Living on the continent of South America during the Late Cretaceous Epoch, this dinosaur was, like all sauropods, a herbivore.
Known from a single well-preserved skeleton, Carnotaurus is one of the best-understood theropods. It was a large, bipedal predator, measuring up to 30 feet in length and weighing at least a ton. Its distinctive feature was thick horns above the eyes and a very deep skull sitting on a muscular neck. Carnotaurus was well adapted for running and was possibly one of the fastest large theropods.
Pteranodon is a genus of pterosaurs which included some of the largest known flying reptiles, with wingspans over 20 feet. Since about 1,200 specimens of this genus have been known to science, many of them well preserved with nearly complete skulls and articulated skeletons, we have a detailed description of this creature. Pteranodon fossils are known primarily from the Niobrara Formation of the central United States.
Rajasaurus is a genus of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs that lived in Late Cretaceous. It was up to 30 feet long and 8 feet high, and it weighed 3 to 4 tons. The skull equipped with very powerful jaws was short, and bore a distinctive low rounded horn. Remains of the bones were excavated from the Narmada River valley in Rahioli, India.
This omnivorous therapsid lived during the middle part of the Middle Permian period around 267 million years ago. It had a sprawling posture and could reach a body length of more than 10 feet. Its skull was long and massive and possessed several sets of large horns. Fossil remains of this dinosaur have been found in Russia.
If you liked these terrifying dinosaurs, check out these Amazing Prehistoric Preditors.