Largest extinct animals
The largest extinct animals known to date are listed here. They are arranged by their taxonomy (classification). The list only deals with individual animals; size of colonies (such as coral reefs) is not dealt with here.
Vertebrates[change | change source]
Fish[change | change source]
The extinct megatoothed shark, C. megalodon is by far the biggest and most powerful shark that ever lived. This giant shark reached a length of more than 16 metres (52 ft). Recent higher estimates place the largest individuals of Megalodon at 20.3 meters (66 ft), making it the largest fish of all time.
Reptiles[change | change source]
Turtles[change | change source]
The largest fossil turtle seems to be the freshwater turtle Stupendemys, with an estimated total carapace length of more than 11 feet (3.3 metres). A close contender is Archelon ischyros, a sea turtle, which reached a length of 16 feet (4.8 m) across the flippers and a weight of over 4,850 lb (2,200 kg). For comparison, the largest living turtle is the Leatherback Sea Turtle at a maximum 2000 lbs (900 kg).
Archosaurs[change | change source]
While often suggested to be the largest crocodilian, Sarcosuchus imperator has been recently cut down to 4 tonnes in weight and 9 meters in length.  Deinosuchus, estimated at around 12 metres (39 ft), is a strong contender for the title.
Pterosaurs[change | change source]
The largest pterosaur was Quetzalcoatlus northropi, at 127 kg (280 lbs) and with a wingspan of 11 m (36 ft). Another close contender is Hatzegopteryx, also with a wingspan of 11 m (this estimate is based on a skull 3 m long (10 ft).
Dinosaurs[change | change source]
Titanosaurs hold the world record for the size of a land animal. A recent discovery in the Argentine found Dreadnoughtus, an estimated length of 26 metres (85 feet) and weight of 59,291 kg (65.4 short tons). Its bones showed it was a sub-adult.
A notably large titanosaurid is Argentinosaurus, which is known from partially preserved remains. This sauropod has been estimated as 30–35 metres (98–115 ft) long and 73–99 metric tons in weight. The lack of skeletal material makes these estimates uncertain.
The very largest ornithopods, like Shantungosaurus were as heavy as medium-sized sauropods at up to 23 metric tons Lambeosaurus laticaudus appears to be close contender at around 15–16.4 metres (49–54 ft) in length.
The largest known theropod is Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, estimated at 15.2–17.4 metres (50–57 ft) in length and around 7–9 metric tons in weight. Spinosaurus aegyptiacus is also recognized as the largest terrestrial predator yet known.
A close contender in size is a giant theropod from South America, Giganotosaurus carolinii, whose holotype specimen is estimated at 12.5 metres (41 ft) in length, and another specimen is estimated at 13.5 metres (44 ft) in length. A study however presents Carcharodontosaurus as a close contender in size to Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. Some other notable giant theropods (e.g. Tyrannosaurus rex, Acrocanthosaurus, and Mapusaurus) may also have rivaled these giant theropods in size. Another very large theropod was Deinocheirus, being 3 metres (10 ft) tall at hips, and weighing up to 16,000 pounds. The largest dromaeosaurid is Utahraptor. In addition to being the largest known dromaeosaurid, it was also the largest known deinonychosaur and the largest known paravian.
The largest ceratopsian known is probably the newly discovered Eotriceratops with a skull alone being 3 metres (10 ft) in length. Maximum size of this ceratopsian is suggested to be around 9 metres (30 ft) in length and 13 tonnes in weight.
Ichthyosaurs[change | change source]
Plesiosaurs[change | change source]
- Long-necked plesiosauridae
There is much controversy here. Fossil remains of a pliosaur nicknamed Predator X were excavated from Norway in 2008. It was about 15 metres (49 ft) in length and 41 metric tons in weight. However, in 2002, a team of paleontologists in Mexico discovered the remains of a pliosaur Monster of Aramberri, which is also estimated at 15 metres (49 ft) in length. However, this specimen is thought to be a juvenile, with evidence that it had been attacked by an even larger pliosaur. Some media claimed that Monster of Aramberri was a Liopleurodon this is unconfirmed.
Squamata[change | change source]
The largest known prehistoric snake is Titanoboa, estimated at 13–15 metres (43–49 ft) in length and 1135 kg–1819 kg in weight. Another large fossil snake is Gigantophis, estimated at around 11 metres (36 ft) in length. Both these snakes lived in tropical rain forests. In third place is an aquatic snake, Palaeophis colossaeus, which may have been around 9 metres (30 ft) in length.
Giant mosasaurs are the largest animals in the Squamata. The largest known mosasaur is likely Mosasaurus hoffmanni, estimated at least 17.6 metres (58 ft) in length. A close contender in size is Hainosaurus bernardi, estimated at 15 metres (49 ft) in length. Another giant mosasaur is Tylosaurus, estimated at 10–15 metres (33–49 ft) in length.
Birds[change | change source]
The largest birds of all time might have been the elephant birds of Madagascar. Of almost the same size was the Australian Dromornis stirtoni. Both were about 3 m tall (10 ft). The elephant birds were up to 400 kg and Dromornis was up to 500 kg in weight. The tallest bird ever was the Giant Moa (Dinornis maximus) at 12 ft tall.
Mammals[change | change source]
Whales[change | change source]
The largest fossil toothed whale was the Miocene whale Livyatan melvillei which was estimated to be 13.5–17.5 m (44–57 ft) in length. One notable feature of L. melvillei was its teeth which were 36 cm long and is unmatched by any other animal, extinct or alive.
However, the largest fossil whales were baleen whales (plankton feeders) from the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs. A notable example is the bones of a Pliocene age baleen whale, assigned the questionable name "Balaenoptera sibbaldina", which likely rivaled the modern blue whale in size.
Land mammals[change | change source]
The largest perissodactyl, and land mammal, of all time was Palaeoloxodon namadicus. It stood 5.5 m (18 ft) tall at the shoulder, with a total height of 8 m (27 ft). It was 12 m (40 ft) long and may have weighed 20 tonnes (22 tons), though mass estimates vary. Some prehistoric horned rhinos also grew to large sizes. The giant woolly rhino Elasmotherium reached 20 ft long and 6.6 ft high.
Invertebrates[change | change source]
Myriapoda[change | change source]
Millipedes (Diplopoda)[change | change source]
The largest by far was the giant Arthropleura. Measuring 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) and 45 centimetres (18 in) wide, it was the largest terrestrial arthropod of all time.
References[change | change source]
- Liston, Jeff. Big dead fish, or just big dead-in-the-water ideas?
- deGruy, Michael (2006). Perfect Shark (TV-Series). BBC.
- Wroe, S. (2008). Huber D.R; Lowry M; McHenry C; Moreno K; Clausen P; Ferrara T.L; Cunningham E; Dean M.N; Summers A.P. "Three-dimensional computer analysis of white shark jaw mechanics: how hard can a great white bite?". Journal of Zoology. 276 (4): 336–342. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00494.x.
- Klimley, Peter; Ainley, David (1996). Great White Sharks: the biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-415031-7.
- Pimiento, Catalina; Ehret, Dana J.; MacFadden, Bruce J.; Hubbell, Gordon (May 10, 2010). "Ancient nursery area for the extinct giant shark Megalodon from the Miocene of Panama". PLOS ONE. Panama: PLoS.org. 5 (5): e10552. Bibcode:2010PLoSO...510552P. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010552. PMC 2866656. PMID 20479893.
- Perez, Victor J.; Leder, Ronny M.; Badaut, Teddy (2021-03-09). "Body length estimation of Neogene macrophagous lamniform sharks (Carcharodon and Otodus) derived from associated fossil dentitions". Palaeontologia Electronica. 24 (1): 1–28. doi:10.26879/1140. ISSN 1094-8074. S2CID 232216009.
- World's largest sea turtle. Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. BHI/Fossils & Minerals/Rept. and Amph./Archelon
- O’Brien, Haley D; Lynch, Leigha M; Vliet, Kent A; Brueggen, John; Erickson, Gregory M; Gignac, Paul M (2019-01-01). "Crocodylian Head Width Allometry and Phylogenetic Prediction of Body Size in Extinct Crocodyliforms". Integrative Organismal Biology. 1 (1): obz006. doi:10.1093/iob/obz006. ISSN 2517-4843. PMC 7671145. PMID 33791523.
- Lyon, Gabrielle (9 December 2001). "Fact Sheet". SuperCroc. Project Exploration. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- Lucas, Spencer G.; Robert M. Sullivan, and Justin A. Spielmann (2006). "The Giant Crocodylian Deinosuchus from the Upper Cretaceous of the San Juan Basin, New Mexico" (PDF). New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin. Mexico. 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
- Witton M.P. and Naish D. 2008. A reappraisal of Azhdarchid pterosaur functional morphology and paleoecology. PLoS ONE, 3(5): e2271. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002271 Full text online
- Mark P. Witton, David M. Martill and Robert F. Loveridge 2010. Clipping the wings of giant pterosaurs: comments on wingspan estimations and diversity. Acta Geoscientica Sinica 31 Supp.1: 79-81
- Benson, Roger B.J. et al 2014. Rates of dinosaur body mass evolution indicate 170 million years of sustained ecological innovation on the avian stem lineage. PLOS Biology. 
- Lovelace, David M.; Hartman, Scott A.; Wahl, William R. (2007). "Morphology of a specimen of Supersaurus (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) from the Morrison Formation of Wyoming, and a re-evaluation of diplodocid phylogeny". Arquivos do Museu Nacional. 65 (4): 527–544.
- Mortimer, Mickey (2001-09-12). "Titanosaurs too Large?". Dinosaur Mailing List.  Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
- Morris, William J. (1981). "A new species of hadrosaurian dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Baja California: ?Lambeosaurus laticaudus". Journal of Paleontology. 55 (2): 453–462.
- Sasso, Cristiano Dal; Maganuco, Simone; Buffetaut, Eric; Mendez, Marco A. (2005). "New information on the skull of the enigmatic theropod Spinosaurus, with remarks on its sizes and affinities". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 25 (4): 888–896. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2005)025[0888:NIOTSO]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 85702490.
- Seebacher, Frank (2001). "A New Method to Calculate Allometric Length-Mass Relationships of Dinosaurs". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Australia: The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. 21 (1): 51–60. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2001)021[0051:ANMTCA]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 53446536.
- Calvo, Jorge O.; Coria, Rodolfo (1998). "New specimen of Giganotosaurus Carolinii" (PDF). GAIA: 117–122. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- Therrien, François; Donald M. Henderson (2007). "My theropod is bigger than yours … or not: estimating body size from skull length in theropods". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Canada: The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. 27 (1): 108–115. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[108:MTIBTY]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 86025320. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Valkenburgh, B.; Molnar, R.E. (2002). "Dinosaurian and mammalian predators compared". Paleobiology. 28 (4): 527–543. doi:10.1666/0094-8373(2002)028<0527:DAMPC>2.0.CO;2. S2CID 85725299.
- Vickaryous M.K; Maryanska T & Weishampel D.B. 2004. Ankylosauria. In: Weishampel D.B; Dodson P. & Osmólska H. (eds) The Dinosauria (2nd edition). Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 363-392.
- White, Richard; Tom Reilly (28 Nov 2007). "Dino's got head the size of Car". The Sun. UK. Archived from the original on 2009-06-22. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2008). Dinosaurs: the most complete, up-to-date encyclopedia for dinosaur lovers of all ages. New York: Random House. pp. 52, updated appendix. ISBN 978-0-375-82419-7.
- "Triassic Giant". Archived from the original on 14 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Predator X (TV). Norway: History Channel. 2008.
- Buchy, M.-C.; Frey, E.; Stinnesbeck, W.; López-Oliva, J.G. (2003). "First occurrence of a gigantic pliosaurid plesiosaur in the late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) of Mexico". Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France. 174 (3): 271–278. doi:10.2113/174.3.271. hdl:2042/260.
- "Monster von Arramberri". Retrieved 6 February 2010.[permanent dead link]
- Head, Jason J.; et al. (2009). "Giant boid snake from the Palaeocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures" (PDF). Nature. Colombia: Macmillan Publishers Limited. 457 (7230): 715–717. Bibcode:2009Natur.457..715H. doi:10.1038/nature07671. PMID 19194448. S2CID 4381423. Retrieved 12 May 2010.[dead link]
- Roach, John (February 4, 2009). "Biggest snake discovered; was longer than a bus". National Geographic News. USA.
- Rage, Jean-Claude; et al. (2003). "Early Eocene snakes from Kutch, Western India, with a review of the Palaeophiidae" (PDF). Geodiversitas. India: Editions scientifiques du Muséum, Paris, FRANCE. 25 (4): 695–716. ISSN 1280-9659. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Dortangs, Rudi W.; Schulp, Anne S.; Mulder, Eric W.A.; Jagt, John W.M.; Peeters, Hans H.G.; De Graaf, Douwe Th. (2002). "A large new mosasaur from the Upper Cretaceous of The Netherlands" (PDF). Netherlands Journal of Geosciences. Netherlands. 81 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1017/S0016774600020515. S2CID 130496410. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
- Lingham-Soliar, Theagarten (1995). "Copyright: Anatomy and Functional Morphology of the Largest Marine Reptile Known, Mosasaurus hoffmanni (Mosasauridae, Reptilia) from the Upper Cretaceous, Upper Maastrichtian of the Netherlands". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 347: 155–172. doi:10.1098/rstb.1995.0019.
- Everhart, Mike. "Research: Tylosaurus proriger - A new record of a large mosasaur from the Smoky Hill Chalk". Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Fact File: Tylosaurus Proriger from National Geographic". Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Morelle, Rebecca (July 7, 2014). "Fossil of 'largest flying bird' identified". BBC News. 
- "Sea Monsters - Fact File: Basilosaurus". BBC - Science & Nature. 2003. Archived from the original on 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Lambert, Olivier; Bianucci, Giovanni; Post, Klaas; De Muizon, Christian; Salas-Gismondi, Rodolfo; Urbina, Mario; Reumer, Jelle (1 July 2010). "The giant bite of a new raptorial sperm whale from the Miocene epoch of Peru". Nature. London: Macmillan. 466 (7302): 105–108. Bibcode:2010Natur.466..105L. doi:10.1038/nature09067. PMID 20596020. S2CID 4369352. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
- Perkins, Sid (2010-07-31). "Moby Dick meets Jaws. Extinct whale had teeth bigger than T. rex's". Science News. 178 (3): 17. doi:10.1002/scin.5591780323. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "The Jaws of the Leviathan". Nature Video. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Deméré, Thomas A.; Berta, Annalisa; McGowen, Michael R. (2005). "The taxonomic and evolutionary history of fossil and modern balaenopteroid mysticetes". Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 12 (1/2): 99–143. doi:10.1007/s10914-005-6944-3. S2CID 90231.