20 Cool Prehistoric Mammal Facts

I hope you all enjoyed our 20 cool dinosaur facts earlier this week. Let’s keep the ball rolling and share some awesome facts about prehistoric mammals.


Woolly Mammoth Painting
Adult Mammoth

1. Let’s get started off with a real mind-blower. The last woolly mammoths were just dying out as the Great Pyramid of Giza was being built. That’s how recent these megafauna lived, pretty amazing, right?
2. Gigantopithecus was the largest ape to ever live, and stood about nine feet tall.
3. Hadrocodium is the smallest prehistoric mammal, measuring in at only a few inches long. Coincidentally, they had a larger brain to body size ratio than most at the time. What it lacked in brawn, it made up for in brains.
4. The largest terrestrial carnivore was Andrewsarchus, and was an ancestor of camels and horses.
5. The largest land mammal to have walked the Earth ever was Paraceratherium. They were ancestors of modern day rhinos and was 16 feet tall at the shoulder. That doesn’t account for their long necks.


Mesonychid Art Drawing
Adult Mesonychid

6. The Steppe Bison populated the same North American regions as mammoths, but were actually smaller than modern-day bison. The Steppe Bison was only about the size of a cow.
7. About 50 million years ago, an ancestor of modern-day ungulates (hooved animals) called mesonychids were carnivorous and looked a lot like wolves.
8. Zaglossus hacketti was an ancestor of the echidna, and was about a yard long.
9. Around 40 million years ago, North America was home to entelodonts, the carnivorous ancestors of hippopotamus who looked like pigs. They are sometimes called “terminator pigs” or “hell pigs”.
10. Repenomamus lived about 125 million years ago and is the only mammal of its time known to eat dinosaurs. Dino bones have been found preserved in their stomachs.


Devil's Corkscrews
Devil’s Corkscrews


11. Shrines to cave bears have been found in several locations across Europe, leading archaeologists to believe that our ancestors worshiped them.
12. There once lived over a dozen species of saber toothed cats, including one which was the ancestor of cats and hyenas.
13. In the coldest Northern reaches of Canada and Siberia, many mummified remains of woolly mammoths (and some other Ice Age animals, too) have been found trapped in the glaciers.
14. Diprotodon was the largest marsupial ever to live, and is closest related to wombats. They looked like big wombats, too.
15. Palaeocastor (an ancestor of beavers) burrowed into the ground using their long front teeth, creating “devil’s corkscrews”, which confused scientists until very recently.


Deinotherium Art16. The saber toothed cat Homotherium lived in prides of up to 20-25 individuals and hunted mammoths.
17. Megalonyx, a giant ground sloth, was actually described by Thomas Jefferson, before he became President.
18. An ancestor of elephants called Deinotherium had unusual tusks; they pointed down to the ground instead of out in front like all other elephants.
19. The Giant Short-Faced Bear, larger than a grizzly, lived in North America for a million years.
20. Palorchestes lived about 12 million years ago and was a marsupial the size of a horse who moved and ate like a koala.

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