What’s the Largest Non-Dinosaur Land Animal to Ever Live? (It Will Surprise You!)

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: May 17, 2023
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This article aims to uncover the largest non-dinosaur land animal to ever exist. While many might assume that dinosaurs hold this title, there were actually several other massive creatures that roamed the earth before and after their reign. Through scientific research and analysis of fossils, we will explore these colossal beasts and discover which one takes the crown for being the biggest non-dinosaur land animal in history.

Several animal species predated humans and are yet undiscovered today, making it nearly impossible to know every animal species that has lived since the dawn of existence and the human race. Scientists only know around 1.5 million of the estimated nine million animal species that have existed since the inception of time.

Some of the millions of as-yet-undiscovered animal species are exceedingly few. Going by this same logic, some are also incredibly big, having existed millions of years ago and dwarfing creatures like elephants and giraffes. So, what’s the largest non-dinosaur land predator to ever walk the earth? Find out in this article.

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The Largest Land Animals: Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

Most dinosaurs became extinct by the end of the Cretaceous period, roughly 66 million years ago.

©iStock.com/Orla

©iStock.com/Orla

Dinosaurs were a group of reptiles that lived on Earth for around 180 million years, beginning about 245 million years ago, at the start of the Middle Triassic Epoch. However, most dinosaurs became extinct by the end of the Cretaceous period, roughly 66 million years ago. Over the years, with the discovery of fossils and traces of life, more than a thousand species of dinosaurs have been identified worldwide, and many more are still undiscovered.

Although dinosaurs were believed to be some of the largest land predators, research and findings over the years establish that some species were tiny and feathery, spending more time in the sky than on land. The largest dinosaurs were those with the longest length from head to tail, although gauging the size or weight of dinosaurs was also helpful in figuring out the largest.

Dinosaurs had unique appearances: horned, armored, dome-headed, crested, long-necked, and sickle-clawed. Some were peaceful vegetarians, while others were flesh-ripping predators. Also, some dinosaurs were not fully terrestrial; some could move around in bodies of water. Despite this, dinosaurs were still the largest predators to walk the earth. However, other large non-dinosaur land animals also walked the earth long before humans, and the largest of them all was Paraceratherium.

What’s the Largest Non-Dinosaur Land Predator to Ever Live?

Triassic Fasolasuchus Dinosaur Replica - Argentina

Fasolasuchus was up to 30 feet long and weighed 4,000 pounds.

©Adwo/Shutterstock.com

Fasolasuchus tenax is a prehistoric reptile that lived during the Late Triassic period, approximately 230 million years ago. It was discovered in Argentina by a team of paleontologists from the University of Chicago and the Argentinian National Scientific and Technical Research Council.

Fasolasuchus belongs to a group of reptiles called rauisuchids, which were large carnivores that roamed the Earth during the Triassic period. Fasolasuchus was one of the largest members of this group, measuring about 24-30 feet in length) and weighing in at a hefty 4,000 pounds! This would make Fasolasuchus the largest terrestrial predator to have existed, except for large theropods, who primarily ate fish.

One interesting feature of Fasolasuchus is its powerful jaws. The fossilized skull shows that it had large teeth with serrated edges, similar to those found in modern-day crocodiles. This suggests that Fasolasuchus was a fierce predator capable of taking down large prey.

While Fasolasuchus was certainly an impressive creature, it is not actually related to dinosaurs. Instead, it belongs to a separate group of reptiles called archosaurs, which includes both dinosaurs and their closest relatives.

Overall, Fasolasuchus provides us with another fascinating glimpse into the world of prehistoric life and reminds us just how diverse and awe-inspiring these creatures were millions of years ago.

Largest Non-Dinosaur Land Predator: Appearance and Diet

Fasolasuchus was likely the biggest of the rauisuchians, reaching a size of between 8 and 10 meters long (24 to 30 feet). Saurosuchus, another rauisuchian from Argentina, is estimated to be up to 9m long and could possibly be larger than Fasolasuchus, but without more conclusive evidence, it is impossible to know for sure.

Fasolasuchus is believed to be one of the largest non-dinosaur land animals to ever live and would have been the most powerful predator in its ecosystem. Despite being larger and heavier than dinosaurs such as Herrerasaurus, it was not very fast and focused on hunting larger, slower reptiles. When these reptiles became extinct at the end of the Triassic period, Fasolasuchus probably also disappeared due to its inability to catch the new, faster dinosaurs that had taken over.

Fasolasuchus is a fascinating creature that has a unique physical characteristic – a single row of osteoderms running down its back. This feature is particularly noteworthy because other rauisuchians typically had more than one row, which provided them with some degree of protection against attacks from other rauisuchians who were attempting to bite their neck or spine. However, as one of the largest rauisuchians in its ecosystem, Fasolasuchus may not have needed this additional defense mechanism. It’s possible that conflicts between different species were rare or non-existent for Fasolasuchus, and it only had to worry about potential challenges from others within its own species, such as contests over carcasses or mating opportunities.

Despite having fewer osteoderms than most of its relatives, Fasolasuchus was still an imposing creature with an estimated length of up to 20 feet (6 meters) and a weight exceeding two tons. Its body was well adapted for life on land, featuring four powerful legs that helped it move quickly across the ground and a long tail that aided in balance and stability during sudden movements.

In terms of appearance, Fasolasuchus likely resembled other large crocodile-like creatures from the Triassic period, with its broad head filled with sharp teeth designed for tearing flesh apart. Its skin would have been thick and scaly like modern-day crocodiles but instead covered in bony plates called osteoderms.

Other Large Non-Dinosaur Carnivores

During the Late Triassic period, there were a few other large carnivorous animals that coexisted with dinosaurs. Among them were phytosaurs, which were crocodile-like predators that could grow up to 20 feet in length.

Another notable predator from this time was the Postosuchus, a distant relative of the modern-day crocodile that stood on two legs like a T-Rex and had sharp teeth for tearing through flesh. It is estimated to have been around 16-18 feet long and may have preyed on smaller dinosaurs.

Overall, these non-dinosaur predators played an important role in shaping ecosystems during the Late Triassic period and provided valuable insights into the diversity of life during this time period.

Carnivorous Dinosaurs

During the late Triassic period, several carnivorous dinosaurs roamed the earth. These included the Coelophysis, Dilophosaurus, and Herrerasaurus. The Coelophysis was a small bipedal dinosaur that lived in what is now North America. It had long legs and a slender frame, making it an agile hunter. The Dilophosaurus was also a bipedal dinosaur but much larger than the Coelophysis. It had distinctive crests on its head and may have been able to spit venom at its prey.

The Herrerasaurus was one of the earliest known carnivorous dinosaurs and lived in what is now Argentina. It had large claws on its hands and feet for grasping prey, as well as sharp teeth for tearing flesh. These three species were among some of the top predators during their time, hunting smaller animals such as reptiles and early mammals.

Up Next:

Top 10 Biggest Animals That Ever Walked The Earth

Top 10 World’s Largest Dinosaurs Ever

Meet The Largest Carnivorous Dinosaur in History (Bigger Than A T-Rex!)

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Adwo/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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