10 Prehistoric Fish That Make Sharks Look Innocent


Jaws was scary, but also a little overrated. After all, the movie was only about an aggressive
shark. Just one simple shark? Pfft. How about a gigantic fish that looks like
a minnow, but is almost 30 feet long and can shear almost any living creature in two? Or an archaic piranha that makes modern piranhas
resemble trout fry? Or just take the plunge with us and discover
the worst prehistoric predatory fish to meet. 10. Rhizodus hibberti Extinct, approximately Orca-sized, and equipped
with massive, flesh shearing teeth, Rhizodus hibberti were enormous ancient rhizodonts,
giant lobe-finned ancient fish that could defy imagination with their sheer ferocity,
making most sharks look tame in comparison. The huge freshwater dwellers that approached
30 feet were generalist predators and the largest freshwater fish ever known. While many modern day giant fish are gentle
giants, such as basking sharks and manta rays, these giant rhizodonts were both massive and
very violent in their behavioral adaptations. An ambush foraging strategy combined with
incredibly robust musculature allowed lunging attacks to take down large prey. These rhizodonts counted large fish and huge
prehistoric amphibians among their prey, and would have had no trouble making short work
of humans had a hypothetical encounter come to pass. Fossils of this terrible creature have been
found in Europe and North America, preserved as their historic lake and river habitats
gave way to sedimentary deposits. The dentition of the species was most impressive,
consisting of highly robust as well as sharp and numerous flesh shearing teeth. Each tooth was firmly anchored in the jaw
bone compared to the loose dental system of sharks. 9. Megapiranha Piranhas are not huge, just toothy, but combining
the ferocity and bite force of a piranha with the size of a small shark has defined horror
movies for years. But prehistoric times offer a reality that
makes present day piranhas look like guppies in comparison. Megapiranha reached more than three feet in
length. Interestingly, both modern piranhas including
the Black Piranha and Red-bellied Piranha, as well as the imposing Megapiranha, are close
relatives of famed tiny living jewels found in home aquariums, namely Neon Tetras and
Cardinal Tetras. Megapiranha may have been huge, but unfortunately
they vanished from the Earth while leaving just enough of a trace for a rough approximation
of their natural history to be gleaned from the paleontological logbook of nature. Front upper jaw remains indicate the creature
was likely a carnivore but also may have engaged in herbivorous behavior, possibly more-so
than modern piranhas, which are known for omnivorous dietary characteristics. Lengths of over three feet are estimated based
on the dimensions of the remains, which were first described in a discovery out of Argentina
in 1900. 8. Leedsichthys Imagine opening a can of sardines. Except this time, you’re back in the Jurassic
era and the can of sardines is about 50 feet in length. What did you order? As you open the can, it contains a single,
herring-like fish that is about 50 feet long itself. This is Leedsychis problematicus, a bizarre
fish that holds the record among all aquatic creatures known as the king of bony fish. The largest bony fish ever to evolve in the
course of natural history, the huge Leedsichthys sea beasts looked deceptively normal, just
like humungous herring, except it was larger than many whales and even the largest of modern
sharks. Fossils of the giant creature have turned
up in England, Germany, France, and South America. A filter feeder, the giant was gentle but
startling in its appearance, equipped with a gaping mouth and disproportionately long
body. Measurements were once thought to be 90 feet,
but further investigation showed that the species, while still gigantic, topped out
at about 55 feet in length. The gill rakers from this species are so large
that they have been mistaken as being larger bones of many other species, even flying reptiles. 7. Xenacanthus Do you think evolutionary history is full
of oddness? It is, but we’re not talking rainbows and
unicorns here. Or actually, are we? Enter the creature you could definitely call
the “unicorn shark.” Xenacanthus represented a prehistoric shark
genus that uncannily resembled a hybrid between a unicorn and a shark. Exceptionally primitive, the peculiar creatures
existed in the late portions of the Devonian time, holding out against extinction until
the wind-up of the Triassic, more than 200 million years ago. Species such as Xenacanthus dechini were indeed
bizarre, but not overly rare niche creatures by any means. Occuring in freshwater, the sharks have left
their bones lying around the globe with 21 different species represented. The sharks grew to about three feet in length,
but went far beyond modern sharks in their eerie anatomy. An exceptionally sharp, unicorn-like spine
projecting from the top of the head is speculated by some researchers to have borne a potent
venom, comparable in physiology to the venomous spines of stingrays like the one that caused
famed “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s untimely death. The teeth of the “unicorn sharks” allowed
armored fish to be crushed, while the swimming motions of the fish recalled modern Conger
Eels. 6. Enchodus petrosus Frequently dubbed the “Sabre-tooth Herring,”
Enchodus petrosus from the Late Cretaceous and the Eocene looked like a herring or sardine
from the supermarket, but was a monstrous 4.9 feet in length. This nearly 5-foot long predatory creature
sported an unsettling assortment of extremely sharp teeth that could measure well over two
inches in length. Few small to medium-sized fish would have
been immune to attacks by the largest Enchodus, named to mean “spear tooth.” Occurring all around the globe, the fish are
related to salmon — in fact, more closely than the herring they are colloquially named
after. To the amateur paleontologist, from a finding
of fossil remains (which are extremely numerous as far as fossil remains go), first impressions
could stir hopes of having found the teeth of a deadly carnivorous mammal rather than
a fish. A hypothetical encounter with a human swimmer
could have proved devastating given the biting power of the fish, speed and agility. The jaws angled downwards, which suggests
attacks from below were common from a morphological analysis standpoint. 5. Chinlea Resembling grotesque versions of a Koi fish,
or a very chubby salmon to a certain degree, the prehistoric yet rediscovered living fossil
species West Indian Ocean Coelacanth and the Indonesian Coelacanth are classic examples
of how supposedly extinct species can be discovered living. Another Coelacanth type, known only from fossils,
makes the two living Coelacanth species look tame by comparison. Growing to five feet in length, Chinlea genus
members were not only sizable but had a shark-shaped head with a tapered snout that contained large,
powerful shearing teeth, which were impressively sharp. The ancient fish were alive in the Triassic
and have been found as fossil remains in Arizona and Texas. As lobe-finned fish, Coelacanth genera and
species such as Chinlea genus members are actually more closely related to primitive
lungfish and the tetrapoda, a superclass that includes creatures like frogs, birds, and
yes, humans. Chinlea are noteworthy for the robustness
of their scales and the tapered build that included streamlining all the way to the tail. Few prey targeted would be to escape a swift
attack and firm biting grip. The weight of the fish reached around 150
pounds. 4. Eusthenopteron Sometimes, nature creates a type of animal
that recalls a weapon more than a typical animal. Fish evolution back in the Devonian epoch
at 370 million years ago produced extraordinary results in the form of the Eusthenopteron
genus of predatory lobe-finned fish. In Greek, the genus name means to have strongly-developed
fins, which it certainly achieved. The members of the Eusthenopteron genus were
aggressive carnivores that looked startlingly similar to the military hardware familiar
today as either airborne cruise missiles or underwater weaponry such as the torpedo. Miguasha National Park in the Eastern Canadian
province of Quebec contains numerous fossil remains. Long-bodied, the fish reached between five
and six feet in length. Their broadly-shaped skull housed numerous
sharp teeth. Furthermore, the jaws were lengthy, with toothy
rows extending far back into the head. The presence of the numerous median fins,
located to the rear of the body, just ahead of the caudal or tail fin, is the most startlingly
aggressive element in the fish’s body plan. These fins are responsible for the militaristic
look of the creature as well as giving genus members a huge leg up — or rather, fin up,
we should say — in fast acceleration in pursuit of prey. The creatures succeeded in combining streamlining
with exceptionally efficient musculature to become fearsome hunters in their time. 3. Hyneria A terrifying lobe-finned predator type, Hyneria
represented a genus of hunting fish that could reach more than 12 feet in length. At such great sizes, ferocious attacks were
aided by correspondingly massive dental development. Two-inch-long teeth occurred in the larger
specimens. Robust scales and incredible levels of musculature
allowed Hyneria attacks to bridge the gap between the marine and the terrestrial, putting
shoreline prey within the reach of hungry Hyneria. The fish were first discovered in Pennsylvania,
near the town of Hyner, for which they are named. Hyneria were freshwater fish with the ability
to hunt in even lower quality water, which would have had limited visibility. Had Hyneria existed alongside humans, the
danger would have been immense. A variety of ancient amphibians as well as
other fish featured prominently in the diet of Hyneria species, which could lung from
the water to capture prey that had mistakenly relaxed just after leaving the water, or were
detected loitering at the water’s edge. 2. Ophiodon ozymandias Prehistoric fish come in a variety of forms
and one of the more interesting ones is an ancient and obsolete giant lingcod. Neither a cod nor a ling, but named for their
resemblance to the two species, lingcod are voracious predators armed with powerful musculature,
a shield-like face and sharp, prey grasping teeth. Once caught, their tremendous swallowing capacity
ensures no escape and the completion of a good meal. The archaic giant lingcod species Ophiodon
ozymandias was discovered as fossil remains in Southern California with origins dating
back to the latter portions of the Miocene epoch. (Note: the above picture is not of this particular
creature, but similar lingcod remains.) This fish was able to reach six feet in length,
hiding from larger predators and concealing itself from potential prey with camouflage,
stealth, and a bottom-dwelling lifestyle. The fish was genetically a member of the greenling
family of bony fish. Evolutionary history shows a pattern of many
larger species such as Ophiodon ozymandias died out, leaving only smaller relatives in
modern times. 1. Piranhamesodon pinnatomus Limestone deposits of southern Germany have
revealed a startling secret from the ancient evolutionary history of bony fish, close to
where the primordial bird Archaeopteryx was first found. The remains of a small but truly terrifying
little fish, which has been named in honor of piranhas and to recognize its behavior,
namely as a “fin cutter.” Piranhamesodon pinnatomus was discovered as
a small fossil equipped with exceptionally sharp flesh-slicing teeth and the dollar-like
body plan of a piranha. Nearby were the remains of the prehistoric
fishes’ victims, showing strange flesh wounds and shearing bites. It appears that the fish was a sort of parasite
that often did not kill prey outright, but simply bit off pieces of fins and flesh. The creature dates back to approximately 152
million years ago in the Jurassic era, but was just discovered recently — so recently
that the findings were first published in Current Biology in October 2018. The flesh-eating behavior of the fish is highlighted
as an example of convergent evolution with piranhas, but vastly pre-dating their arrival
in the evolutionary timeline. Germany’s Jura Museum now hosts an exhibit
to the small but vicious little fish.

100 Replies to “10 Prehistoric Fish That Make Sharks Look Innocent”

  1. 3:20 saying it holds the record among creatures seems disingenuous. While it is the largest of the bony fish, there have been large aquarium of reptiles and there are currently several larger whales. I get what you were trying to say, but just saying there were more accurate descriptors.

  2. Only a very small portion of the ocean has been observed! The Ocean is beautiful but frightening to me! Im afraid some of these prehistoric beasts are still down in the lowest depths of the ocean, and we just don't know it yet!

  3. Jesus Loves the sinner, but hates the sin. Sin= death, Jesus=Life. Ask His Forgiveness while U still have breath. Not to ask is the only unforgivable sin. Don't gamble with your eternal SOUL."It means where U'll spend eternity" Ask NOW! We're in the Last Moments.

  4. I couldn't help but notice that one of the fish on that list reminded me of a Northern Pike, a modern fresh water fish I was encouraged to fear from the stories I was told as a child. One of my brothers had a bent thumb from grasping the severed head of one to throw away. The rather huge head clamped down so rapidly and powerfully, another of my brothers had to use a butcher knife to cut the jaw apart.

  5. ? How did Mr Simon Whistler learn to present a video so well, and talk so fast?
    I believe many want to know this skill.

  6. Of course Jaws was overrated because great whites aren't as aggressive as bull sharks or white tipped reef sharks. That's just sharks that are around today.

  7. Your saying you can’t or have trouble pronouncing something it almost comical. My Whole family loves your videos and we watch almost all on all your channels in large part because …. WE LOVE YOUR VOICE! Yes I’m American so maybe I am biased to hear the English accent as well educated but your voice is like good to my fam , we love it and think it’s comical you would say something wrong. If you laugh during a podcast we almost laugh ourselves to tears. Your a treasure sir . A gentleman , a scholar , pillar of the community!!

  8. Pronunciation. No, you''re not able to pronunciate or enunciate plain English correctly either. You shame me.

  9. *says*:wait… I have a shark more scary…it’s..the…Megalodon… it eats whales… other sharks… mammals and others.

  10. How many of us are on a top tenz binge. I know nothing…except random facts about the worst weapons made in prison and prehistoric fish. The more you know!🌈

  11. 370 million years ago? FAKE NEWS! Mike Pence says the world is only 6000 years old and he must be smart. He's Trump's VP. SPACE FORCE!

  12. Its funny how over time living beings are getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller until theres just cells waiting for a red dwarf to consume its last molecule. (Im not a scientist)

  13. I had an uncle that was a commercial fisherman in the 60's. He swear up and down that he caught a Lingcod that was half the size of his boat, and got snagged in the rigging when he was clearing up another snag.

    It got pulled up to the side of the boat, and when he saw it, he ran to grab his .306 and shoot it. As soon as the fish saw him coming, it jerked it's head, tore half his equipment from the boat and disappeared into the depths. He came back to the dock with a seriously damaged boat, and one hell of a fisherman's tale. IDK, though…he wasn't one for exaggeration…

  14. Don’t say Evolution; you will trigger the creationist! It doesn’t matter how much evidence you give them they will still say sky Daddy did it

  15. Why do people keep asking why some species aren't on the list or why certain species didn't make the top #? The channel name is TopTenz, but the video title doesn't say that this is a top ten type of video. It's just a list of 10 species they feel are scarier than modern sharks.

  16. Well done Simon, Your Latin pronunciation was almost flawless. The only error I detected was early on in the video. When you have a species name that ends in ii, each of the two letters is pronounced seperately. The fitst 'i" has a long "e" sound as in "evil." The second "i" has a long "i" sound as in "island." These double "i" species are often species named for the person who first discovered them or first identified them as a new species. Sometimes they are named in honor of someone. Darwin's barberry (Berberis darwinii) known locally as michate, califate or quelung was first "found" and given its scientific genus species name by Charles Darwin when he was exploring along the coast of South Ameica. Of course the local indigenous people had known about the plant and had eaten its fruit for hundreds. if not thousands of years. But since Darwin gave the barberry its Latin name, he got to claim the species name for himself. Kind of selfish of him, I think.

  17. Just to let you know there is something called the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) that helps with proper pronunciation.

  18. I am disappointed that there's no mentioning of the Placoderms.. They are my favorite fish and they are really badass.. And they are pretty important historic-wise..

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