The hidden dragon, Yinlong (2005)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : OrnithischiaSuborder : CeratopsiaGenus : YinlongSpecies : Y. downsi
Late Jurassic (161,2 - 155,7 Ma)
3 m long and 5 kg (size)
Province of Xinjiang, China (map)
The name Yinlong is something of an inside joke: the fossils of this dinosaur were found in the part of China where the epic movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. Yinlong’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest ceratopsian dinosaur yet identified, a tiny, late Jurassic precursor of much bigger horned dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period like Triceratops and Centrosaurus. Tantalizingly, the fossils of Yinlong bear some resemblance to those of Heterodontosaurus, a clue that the first ceratopsians evolved from equally small ornithopods about 160 million years ago. (By the way, Yinlong was portrayed in a National Geographic special as prey for the tiny tyrannosaur Guanlong, though direct evidence for this is lacking.)

The hidden dragon, Yinlong (2005)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Ornithischia
Suborder : Ceratopsia
Genus : Yinlong
Species : Y. downsi

  • Late Jurassic (161,2 - 155,7 Ma)
  • 3 m long and 5 kg (size)
  • Province of Xinjiang, China (map)

The name Yinlong is something of an inside joke: the fossils of this dinosaur were found in the part of China where the epic movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. Yinlong’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest ceratopsian dinosaur yet identified, a tiny, late Jurassic precursor of much bigger horned dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period like Triceratops and Centrosaurus. Tantalizingly, the fossils of Yinlong bear some resemblance to those of Heterodontosaurus, a clue that the first ceratopsians evolved from equally small ornithopods about 160 million years ago. (By the way, Yinlong was portrayed in a National Geographic special as prey for the tiny tyrannosaur Guanlong, though direct evidence for this is lacking.)

The Teilhardina (1940)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : PrimatesSuborder : HaplorhiniFamily : OmomyidaeGenus : TeilhardinaSpecies : T. crassidens, T. belgica, T. americana, T. brandti, T. demisa, T. tenuicula, T. asiatica, T. magnoliana
Early Eocene (56 - 47 Ma)
China, North America and Europe (map)
Teilhardina was an early marmoset-like primate that lived in Europe, North America and Asia during in the Early Eocene epoch, about 56-47 million years ago. The paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson is credited with naming it after the French paleontologist, Jesuit and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.
The placement of this genus is uncertain and it is likely to be polyphyletic. Two species (T. belgica and T. asiatica) appear to be haplorrhine. The others appear to be anaptomorphine omomyids (and thus more closely related to the tarsiers than to simians) and should have a new genus erected.

The Teilhardina (1940)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Primates
Suborder : Haplorhini
Family : Omomyidae
Genus : Teilhardina
Species : T. crassidens, T. belgica, T. americana, T. brandti, T. demisa, T. tenuicula, T. asiatica, T. magnoliana

  • Early Eocene (56 - 47 Ma)
  • China, North America and Europe (map)

Teilhardina was an early marmoset-like primate that lived in Europe, North America and Asia during in the Early Eocene epoch, about 56-47 million years ago. The paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson is credited with naming it after the French paleontologist, Jesuit and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.

The placement of this genus is uncertain and it is likely to be polyphyletic. Two species (T. belgica and T. asiatica) appear to be haplorrhine. The others appear to be anaptomorphine omomyids (and thus more closely related to the tarsiers than to simians) and should have a new genus erected.

The stone Nippon, Nipponites (1904)
Phylum : MolluscaClass : CephalopodaSubclass : AmmmonoideaOrder : AmmonitidaSuborder : AncyloceratinaSuperfamily : TurrilitaceaeFamily : NostoceratidaeGenus : NipponitesSpecies : N. mirablilis, N. bacchus, N. occidentais, N. sachaliensis
Late Cretaceous (70 Ma)
6 cm long (size)
Indo-Pacific ocean (map)
Nipponites is an extinct genus of heteromorph ammonites. The species of Nipponites (primarily N. mirabilis) are famous for the way their shells form “ox-bow” bends, resulting in some of the most bizarre shapes ever seen among ammonites.
The ecology of Nipponites, as with many other nostoceratids, is subject to much speculation.

The stone Nippon, Nipponites (1904)

Phylum : Mollusca
Class : Cephalopoda
Subclass : Ammmonoidea
Order : Ammonitida
Suborder : Ancyloceratina
Superfamily : Turrilitaceae
Family : Nostoceratidae
Genus : Nipponites
Species : N. mirablilis, N. bacchus, N. occidentais, N. sachaliensis

  • Late Cretaceous (70 Ma)
  • 6 cm long (size)
  • Indo-Pacific ocean (map)

Nipponites is an extinct genus of heteromorph ammonites. The species of Nipponites (primarily N. mirabilis) are famous for the way their shells form “ox-bow” bends, resulting in some of the most bizarre shapes ever seen among ammonites.

The ecology of Nipponites, as with many other nostoceratids, is subject to much speculation.

The small Roamer, Meiolania (1886)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : TestudinesFamily : MeiolaniidaeGenus : MeiolaniaSpecies : M. brevicollis, M. damelipi, M. platyceps, M. mackayi
Pleistocene/Recent (2 Ma - 2 000 years)
2,5 m long and 500 kg (size)
Lord Howe Island/Queensland, Australia (map)
Meiolania was one of the largest, and one of the most bizarre, prehistoric turtles in earth’s history: this slow-moving denizen of Pleistocene Australia not only sported a huge, hard shell, but its strangely armored head and spiked tail seem to have been borrowed from the ankylosaur dinosaurs that predated it by tens of millions of years. In turtle terms, Meiolania has proven difficult to classify, because as far as experts can tell it neither retracted its head into its shell (like one major type of turtle) nor swung it back and forth (like the other major type).
By the way, when its remains were first discovered, Meiolania was mistaken for a prehistoric species of monitor lizard. That’s why its Greek name, which means “little wanderer,” echoes Megalania, the giant monitor lizard that lived in Australia around the same time. Perhaps Meiolania evolved its impressive armor to avoid being eaten by its larger reptile cousin!

The small Roamer, Meiolania (1886)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Testudines
Family : Meiolaniidae
Genus : Meiolania
Species : M. brevicollis, M. damelipi, M. platyceps, M. mackayi

  • Pleistocene/Recent (2 Ma - 2 000 years)
  • 2,5 m long and 500 kg (size)
  • Lord Howe Island/Queensland, Australia (map)

Meiolania was one of the largest, and one of the most bizarre, prehistoric turtles in earth’s history: this slow-moving denizen of Pleistocene Australia not only sported a huge, hard shell, but its strangely armored head and spiked tail seem to have been borrowed from the ankylosaur dinosaurs that predated it by tens of millions of years. In turtle terms, Meiolania has proven difficult to classify, because as far as experts can tell it neither retracted its head into its shell (like one major type of turtle) nor swung it back and forth (like the other major type).

By the way, when its remains were first discovered, Meiolania was mistaken for a prehistoric species of monitor lizard. That’s why its Greek name, which means “little wanderer,” echoes Megalania, the giant monitor lizard that lived in Australia around the same time. Perhaps Meiolania evolved its impressive armor to avoid being eaten by its larger reptile cousin!


The long snouted lizard, Dolichosaurus (1850)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SquamataSuborder : ScleroglossaFamily : DolichosauridaeGenus : DolichosaurusSpecies : D. longicollis
Late Cretaceous (90 Ma)
1,50 m long (size)
England (map)
Related to the mosasaurs,‭ ‬the exact classification of Dolichosaurus is a little uncertain with‭ ‬its exact closeness to the Mosasauridae a little uncertain.‭ ‬Dolichosaurus is noted for having‭ ‬a long thin build and is speculated to have been a weak swimmer.‭ ‬This in turn has led to past speculation that it may have been semi aquatic,‭ ‬occasionally returning to the land like the much earlier nothosaurs of the Triassic.

The long snouted lizard, Dolichosaurus (1850)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Squamata
Suborder : Scleroglossa
Family : Dolichosauridae
Genus : Dolichosaurus
Species : D. longicollis

  • Late Cretaceous (90 Ma)
  • 1,50 m long (size)
  • England (map)

Related to the mosasaurs,‭ ‬the exact classification of Dolichosaurus is a little uncertain with‭ ‬its exact closeness to the Mosasauridae a little uncertain.‭ ‬Dolichosaurus is noted for having‭ ‬a long thin build and is speculated to have been a weak swimmer.‭ ‬This in turn has led to past speculation that it may have been semi aquatic,‭ ‬occasionally returning to the land like the much earlier nothosaurs of the Triassic.


The terrible claw, Deinonychus (1969)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SaurischiaSuborder : TheropodaFamily : DromaeosauridaeSubfamily : VelociraptorinaeGenus : DeinonychusSpecies : D. antirrhopus
Early Cretaceous (123 - 110,2 Ma)
3,4 m long and 70 kg (size)
Cloverly and Antlers formations, North America (map)
If Deinonychus looks familiar, that’s because it was popularized in the blockbuster movie Jurassic Park under the catchier name Velociraptor (real Velociraptors were actually much smaller than the fast, sleek, man-sized predators depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie).

See 10 Facts About Deinonychus

Although it was far from the biggest dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period, Deinonychus was especially fearsome because of its speed, its presumed ability to hunt in packs (tangled Deinonychus bones have been found in close proximity to the remains of Tenontosaurus, a tasty and slow-witted ornithopod), and the enormous, sickle-shaped claws on its hind feet that it used to rip apart larger prey. We can thank the famous paleontologist John H. Ostrom, who discovered the type specimen, for much of what we currently know about Deinonychus—as well as for the idea that raptors like Deinonychus eventually evolved into modern birds.
As is the case with other raptors, the actual appearance of Deinonychus is a matter of debate: today, it’s often depicted as sporting primitive feathers, though its skin may well have been more reptilian in appearance, at least on portions of its body (as it was portrayed in Jurassic Park). As for the presumed intelligence of this dinosaur, that has been way overstated by Hollywood: there’s no way Deinonychus could have turned a doorknob, as depicted in Jurassic Park, and in fact it could easily have been outwitted by a six-year-old child.

The terrible claw, Deinonychus (1969)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Suborder : Theropoda
Family : Dromaeosauridae
Subfamily : Velociraptorinae
Genus : Deinonychus
Species : D. antirrhopus

  • Early Cretaceous (123 - 110,2 Ma)
  • 3,4 m long and 70 kg (size)
  • Cloverly and Antlers formations, North America (map)

If Deinonychus looks familiar, that’s because it was popularized in the blockbuster movie Jurassic Park under the catchier name Velociraptor (real Velociraptors were actually much smaller than the fast, sleek, man-sized predators depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie).

See 10 Facts About Deinonychus

Although it was far from the biggest dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period, Deinonychus was especially fearsome because of its speed, its presumed ability to hunt in packs (tangled Deinonychus bones have been found in close proximity to the remains of Tenontosaurus, a tasty and slow-witted ornithopod), and the enormous, sickle-shaped claws on its hind feet that it used to rip apart larger prey. We can thank the famous paleontologist John H. Ostrom, who discovered the type specimen, for much of what we currently know about Deinonychus—as well as for the idea that raptors like Deinonychus eventually evolved into modern birds.

As is the case with other raptors, the actual appearance of Deinonychus is a matter of debate: today, it’s often depicted as sporting primitive feathers, though its skin may well have been more reptilian in appearance, at least on portions of its body (as it was portrayed in Jurassic Park). As for the presumed intelligence of this dinosaur, that has been way overstated by Hollywood: there’s no way Deinonychus could have turned a doorknob, as depicted in Jurassic Park, and in fact it could easily have been outwitted by a six-year-old child.

The pseudo Cat, Pseudaelurus (1850)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : CarnivoraFamily : FelidaeGenus : PseudaelurusSpecies : P. aeluroides, P. cupsidatus, P. guanghensis, P. intrepidus, P. lorteti, P. marshi, P. quadridentatus, P. romieviensis, P. skinneri, P. stouti, P. turnauensis, P. validus
Miocene (20 - 8 Ma)
1,7 m long and 16 kg (size)
Eurasia and North America (map)
Pseudaelurus, the “pseudo-cat,” occupies an important place in feline evolution: this Miocene predator is believed to have evolved from Proailurus, often considered to be the first true cat, and its descendants include both the “true” saber-toothed cats (like Smilodon) and modern cats. Pseudaelurus was also the first cat to migrate to North America from Eurasia, an event that occurred about 20 million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand years.
Somewhat confusingly, Pseudaelurus is represented in the fossil record by no less than a dozen named species, spanning the expanse of North America and Eurasia and encompassing a wide range of sizes, from small, lynx-like cats to larger, puma-like varieties. What all these species shared in common was a long, slender body combined with relatively short, stubby legs, an indication that Pseudaelurus was good at climbing trees (either to pursue of smaller prey or to avoid being eaten itself).

The pseudo Cat, Pseudaelurus (1850)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae
Genus : Pseudaelurus
Species : P. aeluroides, P. cupsidatus, P. guanghensis, P. intrepidus, P. lorteti, P. marshi, P. quadridentatus, P. romieviensis, P. skinneri, P. stouti, P. turnauensis, P. validus

  • Miocene (20 - 8 Ma)
  • 1,7 m long and 16 kg (size)
  • Eurasia and North America (map)

Pseudaelurus, the “pseudo-cat,” occupies an important place in feline evolution: this Miocene predator is believed to have evolved from Proailurus, often considered to be the first true cat, and its descendants include both the “true” saber-toothed cats (like Smilodon) and modern cats. Pseudaelurus was also the first cat to migrate to North America from Eurasia, an event that occurred about 20 million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand years.

Somewhat confusingly, Pseudaelurus is represented in the fossil record by no less than a dozen named species, spanning the expanse of North America and Eurasia and encompassing a wide range of sizes, from small, lynx-like cats to larger, puma-like varieties. What all these species shared in common was a long, slender body combined with relatively short, stubby legs, an indication that Pseudaelurus was good at climbing trees (either to pursue of smaller prey or to avoid being eaten itself).

The turtle Frog, Myobatrachus gouldii (1841)
Phylum : ChordataClass : AmphibiaOrder : AnuraFamily : MyobatrachidaeGenus : MyobatrachusSpecies : M. gouldii
Least concern
45 mm long (size)
Western Australia (map)
The turtle frog, is a Western Australian frog and the only species in the genus Myobatrachus. It has a small head, short limbs, and a round body, up to 45 millimetres long.
The turtle frog is found in between Geraldton and Fitzgerald River in the Perth region, Western Australia. This area is mainly semi-arid, so the frogs have adapted to suit this region. They have developed short muscular limbs to help them dig into the sand but, unlike most frogs, they dig forwards, like a turtle. They feed on termites so the adaptation of the muscular limbs is useful when trying to break into a termite mound.

The turtle Frog, Myobatrachus gouldii (1841)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Amphibia
Order : Anura
Family : Myobatrachidae
Genus : Myobatrachus
Species : M. gouldii

  • Least concern
  • 45 mm long (size)
  • Western Australia (map)

The turtle frog, is a Western Australian frog and the only species in the genus Myobatrachus. It has a small head, short limbs, and a round body, up to 45 millimetres long.

The turtle frog is found in between Geraldton and Fitzgerald River in the Perth region, Western Australia. This area is mainly semi-arid, so the frogs have adapted to suit this region. They have developed short muscular limbs to help them dig into the sand but, unlike most frogs, they dig forwards, like a turtle. They feed on termites so the adaptation of the muscular limbs is useful when trying to break into a termite mound.

The snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus (1758)
Phylum : ChordataClass : AvesOrder : StrigiformesFamily : StrigidaeGenus : BuboSpecies : B. scandiacus
Least concern
70 cm long and 3 kg (size)
Arctic circle (map)
The snowy owl is typically found in the northern circumpolar region, where it makes its summer home north of latitude 60º north. However, it is a particularly nomadic bird, and because population fluctuations in its prey species can force it to relocate, it has been known to breed at more southerly latitudes. During the last glacial, there was a Central Europe Bubo scandiacus gallicus, but no modern subspecies are recognized.
This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility is chosen, such as the top of a mound with ready access to hunting areas and a lack of snow. Gravel bars and abandoned eagle nests may be used. The female scrapes a small hollow before laying the eggs. Breeding occurs in May to June, and depending on the amount of prey available, clutch sizes range from 3 to 11 eggs, which are laid singly, approximately every other day over the course of several days. Hatching takes place approximately five weeks after laying, and the pure white young are cared for by both parents. Although the young hatch asynchronously, with the largest in the brood sometimes 10 to 15 times as heavy as the smallest, there is little sibling conflict and no evidence of siblicide. Both the male and the female defend the nest and their young from predators, sometimes by distraction displays. Males may mate with two females which may nest about a kilometre apart. Some individuals stay on the breeding grounds while others migrate.

The snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus (1758)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae
Genus : Bubo
Species : B. scandiacus

  • Least concern
  • 70 cm long and 3 kg (size)
  • Arctic circle (map)

The snowy owl is typically found in the northern circumpolar region, where it makes its summer home north of latitude 60º north. However, it is a particularly nomadic bird, and because population fluctuations in its prey species can force it to relocate, it has been known to breed at more southerly latitudes. During the last glacial, there was a Central Europe Bubo scandiacus gallicus, but no modern subspecies are recognized.

This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility is chosen, such as the top of a mound with ready access to hunting areas and a lack of snow. Gravel bars and abandoned eagle nests may be used. The female scrapes a small hollow before laying the eggs. Breeding occurs in May to June, and depending on the amount of prey available, clutch sizes range from 3 to 11 eggs, which are laid singly, approximately every other day over the course of several days. Hatching takes place approximately five weeks after laying, and the pure white young are cared for by both parents. Although the young hatch asynchronously, with the largest in the brood sometimes 10 to 15 times as heavy as the smallest, there is little sibling conflict and no evidence of siblicide. Both the male and the female defend the nest and their young from predators, sometimes by distraction displays. Males may mate with two females which may nest about a kilometre apart. Some individuals stay on the breeding grounds while others migrate.

The Turan horn face, Turanoceratops (1989)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : OrnithischiaSuperfamily : CeratopsoideaFamily : CeratopsidaeGenus : TuranoceratopsSpecies : T. tardabilis
Late Cretaceous (90 Ma)
2 m long and 250 kg (size)
Bissekty formation, Uzbekistan (map)
Ceratopsians, the horned, frilled dinosaurs, followed a neat evolutionary arc: small, ancestral genera like Chaoyangsaurus and Psittacosaurus sprouted up in Asia during the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods, and by the end of the Mesozoic Era, their larger, more prominently horned and frilled descendants (like Triceratops) were restricted to North America. That’s what makes Turanoceratops so controversial: this dinosaur was discovered in Uzbekistan in sediments dating to the cusp of the late Cretaceous period (90 million years ago), a time when most ceratopsians should have fully vacated Eurasia. Most likely, Turanoceratops was a neoceratopsid rather than a full-fledged ceratopsid, which almost (but not quite) solves the mystery of its existence.

The Turan horn face, Turanoceratops (1989)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Ornithischia
Superfamily : Ceratopsoidea
Family : Ceratopsidae
Genus : Turanoceratops
Species : T. tardabilis

  • Late Cretaceous (90 Ma)
  • 2 m long and 250 kg (size)
  • Bissekty formation, Uzbekistan (map)

Ceratopsians, the horned, frilled dinosaurs, followed a neat evolutionary arc: small, ancestral genera like Chaoyangsaurus and Psittacosaurus sprouted up in Asia during the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods, and by the end of the Mesozoic Era, their larger, more prominently horned and frilled descendants (like Triceratops) were restricted to North America. That’s what makes Turanoceratops so controversial: this dinosaur was discovered in Uzbekistan in sediments dating to the cusp of the late Cretaceous period (90 million years ago), a time when most ceratopsians should have fully vacated Eurasia. Most likely, Turanoceratops was a neoceratopsid rather than a full-fledged ceratopsid, which almost (but not quite) solves the mystery of its existence.

The Dugong, Dugong dugon (1776)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : SireniaFamily : DugongidaeSubfamily : DugonginaeGenus : DugongSpecies : D. dugon
Vulnerable
3 m long and 420 kg (size)
Indo-Pacific ocean (map)
The word “dugong” derives from the Tagalog term dugong which was in turn adopted from the Malay duyung, both meaning “lady of the sea”. Other common local names include “sea cow”, “sea pig” and “sea camel”.
Dugong dugon is the only extant species of the family Dugongidae, and one of only four extant species of the Sirenia order, the others forming the manatee family. It was first classified by Müller in 1776 as Trichechus dugon, a member of the manatee genus previously defined by Linnaeus. It was later assigned as the type species of Dugong by Lacépède and further classified within its own family by Gray and subfamily by Simpson.
Dugongs and other sirenians are not closely related to other marine mammals, being more related to elephants. Dugongs and elephants share a monophyletic group with hyraxes and the aardvark, one of the earliest offshoots of eutherians. The fossil record shows sirenians appearing in the Eocene, where they most likely lived in the Tethys Ocean. The two extant families of sirenians are thought to have diverged in the mid-Eocene, after which the dugongs and their closest relative, the Steller’s sea cow, split off from a common ancestor in the Miocene. The Steller’s sea cow became extinct in the 18th century. No fossils exist of other members of the Dugongidae.
Molecular studies have been made on dugong populations using mitochondrial DNA. The results have suggested that the population of Southeast Asia is distinct from the others. Australia has two distinct maternal lineages, one of which also contains the dugongs from Africa and Arabia. Limited genetic mixing has taken place between those in Southeast Asia and those in Australia, mostly around Timor. One of the lineages stretches all the way from Moreton Bay to Western Australia, while the other only stretches from Moreton Bay to the Northern Territory. There is not yet sufficient genetic data to make clear boundaries between distinct groups.
There are claims mentioning that several subspecies such as in Okinawan waters exist either historically or presently.

The Dugong, Dugong dugon (1776)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Sirenia
Family : Dugongidae
Subfamily : Dugonginae
Genus : Dugong
Species : D. dugon

  • Vulnerable
  • 3 m long and 420 kg (size)
  • Indo-Pacific ocean (map)

The word “dugong” derives from the Tagalog term dugong which was in turn adopted from the Malay duyung, both meaning “lady of the sea”. Other common local names include “sea cow”, “sea pig” and “sea camel”.

Dugong dugon is the only extant species of the family Dugongidae, and one of only four extant species of the Sirenia order, the others forming the manatee family. It was first classified by Müller in 1776 as Trichechus dugon, a member of the manatee genus previously defined by Linnaeus. It was later assigned as the type species of Dugong by Lacépède and further classified within its own family by Gray and subfamily by Simpson.

Dugongs and other sirenians are not closely related to other marine mammals, being more related to elephants. Dugongs and elephants share a monophyletic group with hyraxes and the aardvark, one of the earliest offshoots of eutherians. The fossil record shows sirenians appearing in the Eocene, where they most likely lived in the Tethys Ocean. The two extant families of sirenians are thought to have diverged in the mid-Eocene, after which the dugongs and their closest relative, the Steller’s sea cow, split off from a common ancestor in the Miocene. The Steller’s sea cow became extinct in the 18th century. No fossils exist of other members of the Dugongidae.

Molecular studies have been made on dugong populations using mitochondrial DNA. The results have suggested that the population of Southeast Asia is distinct from the others. Australia has two distinct maternal lineages, one of which also contains the dugongs from Africa and Arabia. Limited genetic mixing has taken place between those in Southeast Asia and those in Australia, mostly around Timor. One of the lineages stretches all the way from Moreton Bay to Western Australia, while the other only stretches from Moreton Bay to the Northern Territory. There is not yet sufficient genetic data to make clear boundaries between distinct groups.

There are claims mentioning that several subspecies such as in Okinawan waters exist either historically or presently.

The big Piranha, Megapiranha (2009)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ActinopterygiiOrder : CharaciformesFamily : CharacidaeGenus : MegapiranhaSpecies : M. paranensis
Late Miocene (8 - 10 Ma)
1 m long and 7 kg (size)
Argentina (map)
Just how “mega” was Megapiranha? Well, you may be disappointed to learn that this 10-million-year old prehistoric fish “only” weighed about 20 to 25 pounds, but you have to bear in mind that modern piranhas tip the scale at two or three pounds, max. Not only was Megapiranha at least ten times as big as modern piranhas, but it wielded its dangerous jaws with an additional order of magnitude of menace, according to a recently published study by an international research team.
The largest variety of the modern piranha, the black piranha, chows down on prey with a biting force of 70 to 75 pounds per square inch, or about 30 times its own body weight. By contrast, Megapiranha bit with a force of up to 1,000 pounds per square inch, or about 50 times its own body weight. (To put these numbers into perspective, one of the most fearsome dinosaurs that ever lived, Tyrannosaurus Rex, possessed a biting force of about 3,000 pounds per square inch, compared to a total body weight of about 15,000 pounds, or seven to eight tons.)

The only logical conclusion is that Megapiranha was an all-purpose predator of the Miocene epoch, chowing down not only on fish (and any mammals or reptiles foolish enough to venture into its river habitat) but also large turtles, crustaceans, and other shelled creatures. You can bet that somewhere right now, in Hollywood, an eager young director is casting Megapiranha: The Movie!

The big Piranha, Megapiranha (2009)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Actinopterygii
Order : Characiformes
Family : Characidae
Genus : Megapiranha
Species : M. paranensis

  • Late Miocene (8 - 10 Ma)
  • 1 m long and 7 kg (size)
  • Argentina (map)

Just how “mega” was Megapiranha? Well, you may be disappointed to learn that this 10-million-year old prehistoric fish “only” weighed about 20 to 25 pounds, but you have to bear in mind that modern piranhas tip the scale at two or three pounds, max. Not only was Megapiranha at least ten times as big as modern piranhas, but it wielded its dangerous jaws with an additional order of magnitude of menace, according to a recently published study by an international research team.

The largest variety of the modern piranha, the black piranha, chows down on prey with a biting force of 70 to 75 pounds per square inch, or about 30 times its own body weight. By contrast, Megapiranha bit with a force of up to 1,000 pounds per square inch, or about 50 times its own body weight. (To put these numbers into perspective, one of the most fearsome dinosaurs that ever lived, Tyrannosaurus Rex, possessed a biting force of about 3,000 pounds per square inch, compared to a total body weight of about 15,000 pounds, or seven to eight tons.)

The only logical conclusion is that Megapiranha was an all-purpose predator of the Miocene epoch, chowing down not only on fish (and any mammals or reptiles foolish enough to venture into its river habitat) but also large turtles, crustaceans, and other shelled creatures. You can bet that somewhere right now, in Hollywood, an eager young director is casting Megapiranha: The Movie!

The mount Hurd’s one, Hurdia (1912)
Phylum : ArthropodaClass : DinocarididaOrder : RadiodontaFamily : AnomalocarididaeGenus : HurdiaSpecies : H. victoria
Middle Cambrian (505 Ma)
20 cm long (size)
Burgess shale, Canada (map)
Hurdia is an extinct species of anomalocaridid that lived 505 million years ago during the Cambrian Period. It is part of the ancestral lineage that led to Arthropods and is related to Anomalocaris.
Hurdia was one of the largest organisms in the Cambrian oceans, reaching approximately 20 cm in length. Its head bore a pair of spiny claws which shovelled food into its pineapple-ring-like mouth. A hollow, spike-shaped shell protruded from the front of its head. The function of this organ remains mysterious; it cannot have been protective as there was no underlying soft tissue. Lateral lobes ran along the sides of the organisms, from which large gills were suspended.

Hurdia was a predator, or possibly a scavenger. Its claws are flimsier than those of Anomalocaris, suggesting that it fed on less robust prey. It displayed a cosmopolitan distribution; it has been recovered from the Burgess shale as well as sites in the USA, China and Europe.

The mount Hurd’s one, Hurdia (1912)

Phylum : Arthropoda
Class : Dinocaridida
Order : Radiodonta
Family : Anomalocarididae
Genus : Hurdia
Species : H. victoria

  • Middle Cambrian (505 Ma)
  • 20 cm long (size)
  • Burgess shale, Canada (map)

Hurdia is an extinct species of anomalocaridid that lived 505 million years ago during the Cambrian Period. It is part of the ancestral lineage that led to Arthropods and is related to Anomalocaris.

Hurdia was one of the largest organisms in the Cambrian oceans, reaching approximately 20 cm in length. Its head bore a pair of spiny claws which shovelled food into its pineapple-ring-like mouth. A hollow, spike-shaped shell protruded from the front of its head. The function of this organ remains mysterious; it cannot have been protective as there was no underlying soft tissue. Lateral lobes ran along the sides of the organisms, from which large gills were suspended.

Hurdia was a predator, or possibly a scavenger. Its claws are flimsier than those of Anomalocaris, suggesting that it fed on less robust prey. It displayed a cosmopolitan distribution; it has been recovered from the Burgess shale as well as sites in the USA, China and Europe.

The terrible crocodile, Deinosuchus (1909)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaSuperorder : CrocodylomorphaOrder : CrocodiliaSuperfamily : AlligatoroideaGenus : DeinosuchusSpecies : D. rugosus
Late Cretaceous (80 - 73 Ma)
10 m long and 10 000 kg (size)
Bladen county, USA (map)
The “deino” in Deinosuchus derives from the same root as the “dino” in dinosaur, connoting “fearsome” or “terrible.” In this case, the description is apt: Deinosuchus was one of the largest prehistoric crocodiles that ever lived, attaining lengths of about 33 feet and weights in the neighborhood of 5 to 10 tons. In fact, this late Cretaceous reptile was once thought to be the largest crocodile that ever lived, until the discovery of the truly monstrous Sarcosuchus put it firmly in second place. (Ancient crocodiles were constantly growing—in the case of Deinosuchus, at the rate of about one foot per year—so it’s hard to know exactly how long the longest-lived specimens were.)
Amazingly, the preserved fossils of two North American tyrannosaurs—Appalachiosaurus and Albertosaurus—bear evidence of Deinosuchus bite marks. It’s not clear if these individuals succumbed to the attacks, or went on to scavenge for another day, but you have to admit that a 30-foot long crocodile lunging at a 30-foot long tyrannosaur makes for a compelling picture!

Other than its enormous proportions, Deinosuchus was remarkably similar to modern crocodiles—an indication of how little the crocodilian line of evolution has changed over the past 100 million years. Of course, this raises the question of why crocodiles managed to make it past the KI/T Extinction Event 65 million years ago, while their dinosaur, pterosaur, and marine reptiles cousins all went kaput—a question that’s explored in-depth in this article, Why Did Crocodiles Survive the K/T Extinction?

The terrible crocodile, Deinosuchus (1909)

Phylum : ChordataClass : Reptilia
Superorder : Crocodylomorpha
Order : Crocodilia
Superfamily : Alligatoroidea
Genus : Deinosuchus
Species : D. rugosus

  • Late Cretaceous (80 - 73 Ma)
  • 10 m long and 10 000 kg (size)
  • Bladen county, USA (map)

The “deino” in Deinosuchus derives from the same root as the “dino” in dinosaur, connoting “fearsome” or “terrible.” In this case, the description is apt: Deinosuchus was one of the largest prehistoric crocodiles that ever lived, attaining lengths of about 33 feet and weights in the neighborhood of 5 to 10 tons. In fact, this late Cretaceous reptile was once thought to be the largest crocodile that ever lived, until the discovery of the truly monstrous Sarcosuchus put it firmly in second place. (Ancient crocodiles were constantly growing—in the case of Deinosuchus, at the rate of about one foot per year—so it’s hard to know exactly how long the longest-lived specimens were.)

Amazingly, the preserved fossils of two North American tyrannosaurs—Appalachiosaurus and Albertosaurus—bear evidence of Deinosuchus bite marks. It’s not clear if these individuals succumbed to the attacks, or went on to scavenge for another day, but you have to admit that a 30-foot long crocodile lunging at a 30-foot long tyrannosaur makes for a compelling picture!

Other than its enormous proportions, Deinosuchus was remarkably similar to modern crocodiles—an indication of how little the crocodilian line of evolution has changed over the past 100 million years. Of course, this raises the question of why crocodiles managed to make it past the KI/T Extinction Event 65 million years ago, while their dinosaur, pterosaur, and marine reptiles cousins all went kaput—a question that’s explored in-depth in this article, Why Did Crocodiles Survive the K/T Extinction?

The Bluebuck, Hippotragus leucophaeus (1766)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : ArtiodactylaFamily : BovidaeSubfmily : HippotraginaeGenus : HippotragusSpecies : H. leucophaeus
Late Pleistocene/Recent (Extinct in 1799)
3 m long and 160 kg (size)
South Africa (map)
Most of its activities took place during the day, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Bluebucks followed the conventional territorial system among the Hippotragini or ‘horse antelopes’: territorial bulls, herds of cows and calves, and bachelor herds which were kept segregated by the territorial bulls.
Bluebuck cows and calves lived in small to medium-sized herds of five to 20 individuals, but herds of 35 to 80 were not unusual. They normally occurred at a low density of about 4/km2. Cows shared a traditional home range, which included the territories of several bulls, and occupied it for up to 30 years. At very low densities in substandard habitats, the cows ranged across larger areas, and were accompanied by the same bull, which in the absence of resistance by territorial neighbours, defended a movable space around his own private harem.
Because they had long, dangerous horns, cows tended to be more aggressive than those antelopes whose females are hornless. Dominance hierarchies based on age and individual prowess were vigorously maintained by both sexes. Maternal herds, composed of animals with the same home range, were closed to outsiders. Herd members kept out of range of each other’s horns, by increasing the individual space between them.
Herd composition changed daily and seasonally; members split into small groups during the rainy season, and concentrated into larger groups on the best available grazing near water during the dry season. The most cohesive groups were maintained by calves of different ages, which clustered around the youngest calf and usually lagged behind the herd.
Bulls were accepted in the natal herd up to the age of 15–18 months, which was unusually long. Until then, their similarity to cows suppressed the aggression of the territorial bulls. Subadult bulls were driven from the herd, and if they did not escape quickly enough, they were killed. They then joined bachelor herds, where they stayed until they reached five or six years of age, when they would be strong enough to defend their own territories.
The adult bull would advertise his presence and high social status by standing or lying alone or away from the herd, at a conspicuous place. The bull stood erect as a sign of high status, and it was self-advertising if it was not directed. When another bull approached his herd, the dominant bull would stand with his neck arched, head high, and ears turned sideways. Unless the intruder showed submission by lowering his head, the bull kept his ears erect, and waved his tail or tucked it between his legs, and a clash of horns and head-butting would take place. Its sound was a blowing snort.
Cultivation of the Cape Colony and hunting with firearms quickly destroyed the last small herds. The bluebuck disappeared before the early natural history cabinets and museums had a chance to obtain a fair number of specimens.

The Bluebuck, Hippotragus leucophaeus (1766)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae
Subfmily : Hippotraginae
Genus : Hippotragus
Species : H. leucophaeus

  • Late Pleistocene/Recent (Extinct in 1799)
  • 3 m long and 160 kg (size)
  • South Africa (map)

Most of its activities took place during the day, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Bluebucks followed the conventional territorial system among the Hippotragini or ‘horse antelopes’: territorial bulls, herds of cows and calves, and bachelor herds which were kept segregated by the territorial bulls.

Bluebuck cows and calves lived in small to medium-sized herds of five to 20 individuals, but herds of 35 to 80 were not unusual. They normally occurred at a low density of about 4/km2. Cows shared a traditional home range, which included the territories of several bulls, and occupied it for up to 30 years. At very low densities in substandard habitats, the cows ranged across larger areas, and were accompanied by the same bull, which in the absence of resistance by territorial neighbours, defended a movable space around his own private harem.

Because they had long, dangerous horns, cows tended to be more aggressive than those antelopes whose females are hornless. Dominance hierarchies based on age and individual prowess were vigorously maintained by both sexes. Maternal herds, composed of animals with the same home range, were closed to outsiders. Herd members kept out of range of each other’s horns, by increasing the individual space between them.

Herd composition changed daily and seasonally; members split into small groups during the rainy season, and concentrated into larger groups on the best available grazing near water during the dry season. The most cohesive groups were maintained by calves of different ages, which clustered around the youngest calf and usually lagged behind the herd.

Bulls were accepted in the natal herd up to the age of 15–18 months, which was unusually long. Until then, their similarity to cows suppressed the aggression of the territorial bulls. Subadult bulls were driven from the herd, and if they did not escape quickly enough, they were killed. They then joined bachelor herds, where they stayed until they reached five or six years of age, when they would be strong enough to defend their own territories.

The adult bull would advertise his presence and high social status by standing or lying alone or away from the herd, at a conspicuous place. The bull stood erect as a sign of high status, and it was self-advertising if it was not directed. When another bull approached his herd, the dominant bull would stand with his neck arched, head high, and ears turned sideways. Unless the intruder showed submission by lowering his head, the bull kept his ears erect, and waved his tail or tucked it between his legs, and a clash of horns and head-butting would take place. Its sound was a blowing snort.

Cultivation of the Cape Colony and hunting with firearms quickly destroyed the last small herds. The bluebuck disappeared before the early natural history cabinets and museums had a chance to obtain a fair number of specimens.