Ever wondered what it would look like to see a seven-ton Tyrannosaurus rex chomp down on his dinner (and hold the prey animal's bloody head aloft for its young ones to see)? How about a 60-foot mega-shark, Carcharodon megalodon, pursuing its prey through the ocean?
Alas, there were no photographers around to record the gruesome events. Fortunately for us, there are some highly skilled paleoartists who can provide a realistic look at dinosaur predation--and fossils suggest the interactions between dinosaur predator and dinosaur prey could be pretty ferocious.
"With one possible exception, there can be no more dynamic interaction between two organisms than that of predator and prey," Steve White, editor of Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart, told The Huffington Post in an email. "And when you’re dealing with creatures as magnificent as T-rex or a sabre-toothed cat, it’s little wonder that paleoartists--those who specialise in illustrating these ancient creatures--often choose such dynamic subject matter."
Check out the slideshow below to take a step back in time and see the most epic prehistoric predators.
A 36-foot-long Pliosaurus attacks the plesiosaur Cryptoclidus, a marine reptile from the Late Jurassic Period. Also shown: the fish Pachycormus, a shoal of the belemnite Belemnoteuthis, and the ammonite Pectinatites. Acrylic Painting, 2008.
Rugops Primus Environmental Scene
The scavenger Rugops, a dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous that lived in what is now Africa, driving a trio of the pterosaur Tupuxuara from the corpse of the sail-backed iguanadontid Ouranosaurus. The crocodylomorphs, relatives of the modern crocodile, are the 'boar-croc' Kaprosuchus.
Working together, a pair of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus, one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs, steal away a juvenile Paralititan stromeri from its family herd. Paralititans were swamp-dwellers that grew to be one of the largest creatures to ever roam the Earth. Mixed media, 2011.
Ammonites, so called after the Egyptian god Ammon, were carnivorous squidlike animals that could be over 3 feet in diameter. Here, several ammonites decay on the sea floor. Material: Gouache, 2011. Based on a prepared slab in Ulster Museum. Courtesy of A. Cowap.
Reaper In Paradise
The giant crocodile, Deinosuchus riograndensis, attacks an Albertosaurs, a smaller relative of the Tyrannosaurus, in Late Cretaceous North America, 75 million years ago. Acrylic painting, 2003.
Mammoths And Saber-Toothed Cats
A pride of Smilodon fatalis, often called a saber-toothed cat, attacks a calf belonging to a herd of mammoths while the mother moves to protect her offspring. Digital painting
Aucasaurus Attacking Titanosaur Nests
During the Late Cretaceous (85 million years ago) Aucasaurus, a pack-hunting dinosaur, attacks a group of startled titanosaurs in Argentina. Pushing past the adults guarding their nests, the Aucasauruses snap up the babies as they hatch. From National Geographic, March 2003, 'Dinosaurs - Flesh & Bone'
Gallimimus Bullatus & Tarbosaurus Bataarm
Tarbosaurus, a predatory reptile that lived 70 million years ago in parts of Asia, chases two Gallimimuses, ostrich-like dinosaurs that could grow nearly 30 feet long. Digital Art, 2010.
One Split Second: Triceratops Vs. Tyrannosaurus Rex
The T-Rex probably preyed on Triceratops, because their territories overlapped 65 million years ago. While the T-Rex had its famous bite to use for a weapon, triceratops' powerful horns were a formidable defense. Digital Painting/photographic composite. 2011. From the Golden Book of Dinosaurs, by Robert Baker/Rey.
Ambush In The Late Miocene Of Florida
This scene shows a prehistoric rhino struggling to escape the sharp claws of two saber-toothed cats. From left to right: Aelurodon, Teleoceras (rhino), Barbourofelis (saber-tooth), Neohipparion (horse), Aepycamelus (giraffe-like camels), Synthetoceras.
Smilodon & Paramylodon
A Smilodon, or saber-toothed cat, dispatches a ground sloth trapped in tar during the Ice Age in North America. Digital painting.
A huge toad from the late Cretaceous of Madagascar that may have grown to over 16 inches long and could have weighed up to 9 pounds. It was certainly big enough to eat baby dinosaurs. Acrylics on illustration board, 2007.
Cretaceous Rodeo (Aka T-Rex Family Life)
The Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the most formidable predators of all the dinosaurs. The 40-foot-long carnivore had teeth up to twelve inches long. However, there is a debate among paleontologists over whether the T-Rex was an apex predator or a scavenger. Acrylics & ink on cardboard, 2004.
Devourer Of Giants
Five million years ago, several Anacus - a straight-tusked member of the elephant family - have been caught in a flash flood and drowned. Washed out to sea, they attract two adult and a juvenile mega-shark named Carcharodon megalodon - at around 60 feet, probably the largest shark known. Acrylic painting, 2000.
Pristichampsus Attacking Early Horses
Pristichampsus is an extinct crocodile relative that could grow up to 10 feet long. The armored reptile lived mostly on land, and fed on land mammals like these early horses. Detail from composite scene for the TV show Animal Planet. Gouache
Megantereon Attacking Bushbuck
Megantereon, an early saber-toothed cat, may have eaten young rhinos, elephants, and horses. The felines probably bit their prey on the neck to kill them, and then let them bleed to death, like the bushbuck pictured here. Kromdraai A, Early Pleistocene of South Africa. Colored pencils, from Evolving Eden (Columbia University Press)
Photos courtesy Titan Books
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