The Prehistoric Giants Hall of Fame
What were the largest species of all time? Does the Tyrannosaurus rex make the list?
- By Brian Switek
- Smithsonian magazine, April 2012
Titanoboa was one gigantic snake. It lived around 58 to 60 million years ago, a scant several million years after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. It could grow 42 feet or more in length and weigh more than a ton, vastly outslithering the previous fossil record holder, a 40-million-year-old, 33-foot-long snake called Gigantophis. But Titanoboa is just one proud inductee in the Prehistoric Giants Hall of Fame. Meet the other record-holders.
(University Of Bristol)
Millions and millions of years ago, the earth was overrun with oversized arthropods, the phylum that includes spiders, scorpions, crabs, centipedes and barnacles. They crawled through the undergrowth, flew through the air and swam in the sea. The biggest of all may have been Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, a fearsome-looking sea scorpion. The 390-million-year-old creature has no modern equivalent; horseshoe crabs are its closest living relatives.
The creature had been known to paleontologists for decades, but the description of a huge claw in 2007 catapulted the obscure creature to fame. According to paleontologist Simon Braddy and colleagues, the 18-inch long claw indicates that the aquatic predator may have been more than eight feet long.