Mastodons are distant relatives of the woolly mammoth. They migrated to North America via the Bering Strait land bridge roughly 15 million years ago. These creatures were prominent in North and Central America until they went extinct 10,500 years ago due to overharvesting by Clovis hunters.
Typically, mastodons traveled in herds and lived in cold spruce woodland areas. Their eating habits were very similar to modern elephants. They would browse and graze for mixed plants. The bulk of the mastodon diet was coniferous twigs. Mastodons in America had thick, shaggy coats like the woolly mammoth. Their tusks could reach over 16 feet in length and curved slightly upwards. These mammals reached heights up to 9 feet tall and weighed nearly 10 tons.
Known as Smilodon, the saber-toothed tiger most commonly lived in North, South and Central America during the Pleistocene epoch. These animals are notable for their large canine teeth that extend from their mouth. The teeth were used to capture and kill prey quickly and could be as long as 1 foot.
Most saber-toothed tigers are roughly the size of modern cats and built compactly. They had shorter spines, feet, and tails than most felines. Comparable to a jaguar, saber-toothed tigers weighed between 120 and 220 pounds. These mammals were considered apex predators and preyed on large mammals. Bison, pig-like animals called Platygonus and a llama-related creature called Hemiauchenia were targets of the cunning saber-toothed tiger. The dire wolf and American lion were competitors of the saber-toothed tiger. Although it’s named tiger, this mammal is not related to tigers or other modern cats.
Related to modern dragonflies, the Meganeura is the biggest predatory flying insect ever discovered. Its wingspan reaches from 25 to 28 inches. This terrifying insect lived on Earth roughly 300 million years ago. Higher oxygen concentrations in prehistoric times made it possible for this bug to breathe enough to support its size. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about encountering these bugs that are one quarter the size of a human!
Additionally, a lack of predators contributed to the Meganeura being able to evolve to be so large. Scientists also believe that because they were developed in water before appearing on land as adults, they were more equipped to handle high oxygen levels. Meganeura was a predatory species and feasted on other insects. It’s also possible that they ate small amphibians.