8 animals we can't believe actually existed

By Shanaaz Prince
29 May 2015

These weird and wonderful creatures look like something out of a science fiction movie! The Ice Age may have taken place billions and billions of years ago, a time when animals of all shapes and sizes roamed the earth.

1. Woolly Rhinoceros

PHOTO: WIkimedia Commons PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Bearing an almost exact resemblance to our modern-day rhino, the woolly rhinoceros or Coelodonta was a large, plant eating Ice Age mammal. It had long gray-brown fur and two horns, with the one on the tip of its snout growing to one meter in grown male species. A large Coelodonta grows to be approximately 3.5 meters long. This animal was well adapted to the cold and was around during the Pleistocene epoch, about 1.8 million years ago until about 10,000 years ago

2. Woolly Mammoth

PHOTO: WIkimedia Commons PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

One of the more common Ice Age animals, the Woolly Mammoth, one of a number of types of mammoths was also a plant eater and closely resemble our modern-day elephants. They lived from approximately 120 000 to 4000 years ago and had long, dense black hair and under fur and long curved tusks, floppy, big ears and a fatty hump. Full grown mammoths grew to about 3.5 meters long and 2.9 meters tall and could weigh up to 2.75 tons.

3. Saber-toothed cats

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Saber-toothed cats include the likes the Smilodon which was the largest saber-toothed cat which went extinct about 11 000 years ago and bear a striking resemblance to our modern-day big cats, including the lion. Smilodon was a predator that was could grow to be between 1.2-1.5 meters long and 0.9 meters tall. It weighed about 200kgs and was a bit smaller than a modern-day lion, but much heavier. The other difference to that of a lion is that it had saber-like teeth which were serrated and could grow up to18 cm long.

4. The Doedicurus

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The Doedicurus bears a great resemblance to what we know as an armadillo. Although plant eaters, they were preyed on by saber-toothed cats and had dome-shaped shells and rings of bone around their long tails. They grew to about 4 meters long and 1.5 meters tall and had four short legs, powerful jaws, with no teeth in the front of the mouth, but had grinding teeth at the back in the jaws. Doedicurus lived approximately between 2 million and 15,000 years ago.

5. Andrewsarchus

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Andrewsarchus was a wolf-like Ice Age carnivorous mammal which was as tall as a horse and weighed close to a ton. Another meat eater and despite their resemblance, they were not related to any dog or wolf-like animals of today. The largest carnivores to walk the earth, Andrewsarchus’s were approximately 5.5 meters long, 2 meters tall and weighed up to 1 ton and had hooves on their feet instead of claws.

6. The Irish Elk

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Relatives of the reindeer family, the Irish elk had more in common with our modern day deer than just looks. They were endurance runners and had massive antlers which could be anywhere between 4.3 meters in length and weighing up to 45kgs. According to research, this Ice Age animal was said to have lived up to 5000 B.C.

7. The Haast Eagle

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Similar to our modern-day American-bald eagle, just bigger. It was known as the largest eagle to have lived and was a predator with a low and narrow skull and elongated beak. Males were generally smaller than females and had short wings for its size, not used for soaring but rather flapping, different to our eagle today. Their wings were also used to catch prey. The Haast Eagle could weigh approximately up to 10 – 13 kgs with a wingspan of up to 2.6 meters for a large female. These birds were hunted to extinction and are said to have been extinct by 1400 A.D.

8. Giant Ground Sloths

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Closely resembling the modern-day tree sloths, the herbivorous giant ground sloths of the Ice Age lived on the ground and were massive, often growing to the size of mammoths. They had claws up to 50 cm long, tiny heads and slim shoulders with big hind legs. The largest of the ground sloths was the Megatherium which weighed over 5 tons. Giant ground sloths disappeared about 10 000 years ago.

For more exciting facts about the Ice Age be sure to visit the Ice Age Exhibition website, proudly brought to you by Huisgenoot, YOU and Drum.

Sources: walkingwith.wikia.com; www.enchantedlearning.com; www.prehistoric-wildlife.com; nationalgeographic.com; www.bbc.co.uk; www.petermaas.nl; www.unmuseum.org

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