Life on earth, as magnificent and versatile as it is, is seemingly tame compared to the weird and wonderful creatures that once existed. All categories of life have reached unimaginable sizes, here are just a selection of prehistoric record breakers!
MEGALODON The biggest shark known to have existed, ruling over the oceans as recently as up to a million years ago. A length of almost 20 metres and weighing in at an estimated 48 tonnes, Megalodon could deliver a crucifying bite of up to 110,000N. It is no surprise that the Megalodon was dubbed the “whale killing shark”.
MEGATHERIUM Our early ancestors would have been quite familiar with Megatherium as they existed up to 8000 years ago, they were in fact the largest sloths to have existed. Sloths have a reputation as being lazy, slow and docile, but Megatherium was a 6 metre long, 4 tonne monster with a killer instinct and knife-like claws. Megatherium’s discovery came before that of the dinosaurs. Skeletons of these prehistoric beasts were a delight to the Victorian public and paved the way for the science of palaeontology.
ARCHELON Literally meaning “large turtle”, Archelon certainly was just that. Existing during the cretaceous, the time of the dinosaurs, Archelon could reach 4.5 metres long and may have lived to over 100 years old. Archelon could not compete with other cretaceous beings in speed and agility, but its blade-like beak was able to slice through flesh and crush though the toughest ammonite shells. Unfortunately Archelon appears to have been a popular snack for other marine dwellers, skeletons are frequently missing flippers or heads and covered in slashes.
TITANOBOA When the dinosaurs reign ended, a new era saw the rise of new super-predators, one was Titanoboa, the largest snake ever with a body up to 13 metres long, standing a metre off the ground and weighing up to 2500 pounds. Titanoboa was 30% longer than even todays largest species. Scientists believe this humongous snake hunted like its modern relatives, the boa constrictors, by winding around prey and suffocating them.
IRISH ELK Owner of the largest antlers of any animal, up to 3 metres wide, the Irish Elk gets its name from its frequent discoveries in Irish peat bogs. Existing up to 10,000 years ago, these would have been a common sight in grasslands for our ancestors. Many fossils indicate the animals died of starvation which is why the antlers are thought to have been part of elaborate mating contests between males, often resulting in one being fatally injured and unable to feed itself.
DEINOTHERIUM A distant relative of the elephants and mammoths, Deinotherium was more sinister, its name translates to “terrible beast”, they would have most likely caused trouble for our ancient ancestors around 1.5 million years ago. Deinotherium is actually considered to be the second largest land mammal of all time, behind Paraceratherium and is iconic in appearance due to its sharp, downward facing tusks.
ARCTODUS Known as the short faced bear, they were the biggest bears on record and one of the largest mammal carnivores to have existed. Whilst their skull was short, they were packed with piercing teeth that could deliver a bone crushing bite. Existing up to 11,000 years ago, out ancestors would have stayed well clear of this 900 kilogram predator, with slender limbs and knife-like claws, Arctodus was deadly.
SARCOSUCHUS One of the most infamous fossil discoveries in history, Sarcosuchus was the largest crocodile to walk the Earth up to 112 million years ago, this was a crocodile capable of killing dinosaurs. Sarcosuchus was twice as long as a saltwater crocodile, that’s 11-12 metres long and could reach over 8 tonnes. Its jaw was packed full of 66 teeth either side of its jaw and would have clamped down on prey that wandered too near.
ARGENTINOSAURUS One of the largest lifeforms that has ever stood on the Earth, Argentinosaurus could grow up to 30 metres long with its hind limbs standing 4.5 metres off the ground. They existed between 97-94 million years ago and at adulthood would have been virtually indestructible to predators. Its weight is estimated at a staggering 80-100 tonnes. There hasn’t been another land mammal on the same scale as Argentinosaurus since and it’s unlikely there ever will be.
SPINOSAURUS The largest discovered therapod ever, a group that includes Allosaurus and Tryrannosaurus. Spinosaurus remained an enigma to scientists for decades, the only discovered specimen was sadly destroyed during World War 2 and was not rediscovered until the 21st century. Spinosaurus is thought to have reached up to 16 metres long and weighed in around 12 tonnes, that is almost double the weight of a T-rex!
Alas! alas! small things come at the end of great things; a tooth triumphs over a mass. The Nile rat kills the crocodile, the swordfish kills the whale, the book will kill the edifice, I’m Frollo and I’ll kill you.
Hi! Do you have any theories/headcanons about the Dracula characters' ages are? We know Jack is 29 and says Jonathan, Quincey, and Arthur are younger than him, and Jonathan would probably have to be a certain age to be a official solicitor. Do you have any thoughts? Thanks!
Okay! I do not have hard and fast headcanons for exact numbers here, but –as is often the case– I do have some overly zealous research facts that shape my impressions. So, because everyone knows I love to geek out about this stuff, I’m going to list out some of those assorted facts with my resulting thoughts about the characters’ ages and what their ages probably tell us. This will probably make this a much longer answer than this ask might seem to demand, but it’s Dracula Day (or it was when I started) and I am ready to Dracula as hard as I can.
So, just to set the stage, the generally agreed upon date during which the events of the book take place is 1893, based on the fact that Stoker’s timeline in his notes has days of the week that align with this year, and the mention of the recent death of Jean-Martin Charcot and the term “New Woman” position. This is the date I’m using in trying to extract fun pre-Dracula-timeline Dracula ideas. Some people, of course, tend to favor an 1890 date, given that the epilogue of the novel seems to indicate the events took place 7 years prior to the publication of the novel, but I prefer ‘93 because more minor details of the text make sense with it. (I won’t even get started with Leonard Wolf and his attempt to assign dates based on moon phases.)
R. M. Renfield: Renfield is explicitly 59 (b. 1834). We don’t know much about him; heck – we don’t even know his first name; and there’s not a lot we can draw conclusions about. It might be sort of interesting to someone, I guess, that Stoker initially gave his age as 49 in the typescript before crossing it out and that Renfield and that Patrick Rourke (a brain injury patient from whom some of Renfield’s medical info was drawn) was 50, but it’s not super interesting to me. Slightly more interesting may be the fact that he is within an age range where he feels chill speaking about Arthur’s dad as a peer, but there’s not a terrible lot to be extrapolated from that given that Renfield still has no past and Lord Godalming still has no personality.
Jack Seward: Jack is explicitly 29 (b. 1864), and if we take Van Helsing being his mentor as an indication that he studied in Amsterdam, he would have had to have spent 6 years of his life earning his M.D. in addition to spending however many it takes to wrangle himself into being superintendent of a private asylum and however many it takes one to go on adventures in Siberia and Korea with one’s bros when the latter country only opened its borders in 1882. This all feeds into my long held headcanon that he inherited his post as superintendent at a private asylum that was some manner of dynastic institution, as this makes more sense than Jack being some sort of savant who was able to get himself a superintendency immediately after a decade of med school and shooting wolves. Also, this allows Jack to join the “everyone’s parents are dead” club that has the rest of the novel as its membership.
Lucy Westenra: Lucy is explicitly 19 (b. 1874), but she is due to turn 20 in September of the year in which the novel takes place, and we do not know if she has a birthday somewhere in the midst of tragically dying that month. If we want to get super sad and well into the spirit of Stokerian Victorian melodrama, let’s just say that she was going to get married on her birthday (September 28) and instead of getting either married or having any sort of birthday celebration, she had a violent post-mortem confrontation with her fiance in which she was about to chew on a baby. On a tangential chronology-related note, her parents may have been a bit old or predestined to tragedy, given that her father has been dead for over two years at the time of the novel (She is described as wearing white – i.e. not in mourning.) and given that her mother has a heart problem that seems suited to those who are elderly, cursed, or shameless plot devices.
Mr. Swales: Mr. Swales is the character claims that he is nearly 100 (b. 1793?) and he was apparently already sailing around with the Greenland fishing fleet at the time of the Battle of Waterloo (1815), which means he was probably killing whales and speaking incomprehensible dialect with his bros from the age of 22 to possibly some time in his late 40s when the fleet was phased out of existence in the 1840s. What he did with his life afterwards remains a mystery until around 1873, when he started sitting on Geordie Canon’s grave and bothering tourists.
Jonathan Harker: Jonathan’s age isn’t given, but I’m going to put him at around 21 (b. 1872). Why this specific number? Because it required 5 years apprenticeship to a trained solicitor to qualify for examination in the 1890s, and while I haven’t looked up the laws, I imagine that you probably can’t start that sort of thing before the age of 16, even if the solicitor in question is your adoptive dad and you’ve probably been soliciting under him forever. While theoretically Jonathan could have started a formal apprenticeship later or gotten special permission to take the exam after a 3 year stint, I’m going with the narrative that he started his apprenticeship to Hawkins as soon as humanly possible. I also like this because I envision Mina as being of his age or slightly older, and as we’ll get to next, I envision her as being in her early twenties.
Mina Harker: Mina’s age isn’t given, and I don’t have any fun historical facts to help pinpoint it, but I’m on board with the headcanon that many adapters and annotators have, which is that she attended the same boarding/finishing school as Lucy, where they became friends, and was eventually taken by the institution on as an assistant schoolmistress. Somewhere between 21-23
is my general estimate for her.
Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris: Arthur and Quincey are explicitly mentioned as being younger than Jack, but I don’t think they’re as young as Jonathan is. The only date we have that connects all three men is the Korea thing, and given that Jack was 18 when the borders opened and probably wasn’t out of med school until the age of 22 at least, I’m going to place the expedition around ‘87 and assume Arthur and Quincey were in their early twenties at the time, with Quincey being a little older to account for him having likely adventured more in his life than Art. I’d put them around 25 (Art, b. 1868) and 27 (Quincey, b. 1866) at the time of the novel.
Abraham Van Helsing: Abraham is given as being in his 50s. I’m putting him at 52 because this was William Thornley Stoker’s age at the time of Dracula’s publication, and I tend to imagine that Van Helsing is pretty solidly based, at least in part, on Thornley.
Dracula: I post about how i’m like… not at all a fan of the Drac = Vlad III from time to time, but if you want to get into specifics as to what age I think he hails from, it’s the 1500s to 1600s rather than the 1400s. I could explain, but this guy already did.
I told @ei-lena I would do this post (herein, Rant), so here it is:
I get told, often and repeatedly, that science has nothing to do with Craft. Whenever I point out how a scientific fact correlates with, and indeed even explains some aspects of, a magical property (be it an herb, a stone, or other ingredient), I am gently admonished that, while said fact is “interesting”, it has no place in a Pagan environment. Or sometimes, the admonishment is not so gentle.
I’ve been called stupid, blasphemous, brain-washed. And not by ancient crones, bent cackling over a cauldron! By people ranging from my parents’ age (Fifties), all the way down the age spectrum to children, a decade younger than I am! People who’ll happily take advantage of explainable science to have witchy apps on their smart phones, electric votives in place of candles, a french press or coffee maker to create potions (Things that would have been considered impossible less than a century ago), but refuse to acknowledge certain aspects of magic simply being a science we don’t quite understand yet. As if having a molecular explanation for a power makes it less.
Understanding that a chemical compound comprised of trinitrotoluene being exposed to a sudden electrical charge causes a massive explosion does not lessen the devastation of that explosion!
Understanding that the crystalline structure of certain stones means they transmute energy away from or towards the source of that energy doesn’t lessen the property of that stone!
A perfect example happened to me just a few days ago. I have an antique piece of scrimshaw, and a shard of fossilized dinosaur bone. The scrimshaw was made from the tooth of a sperm whale, the bone shard appears to be from a shattered bone of a large predator (species unknown). I was searching everywhere to find what kind of Craft aspects these two pieces could provide, but I found nothing, so I went to a chat room specifically geared towards pagans etc. to ask for opinions.
Overwhelmingly, the initial reaction was that I was a horrible person for owning scrimshaw, and that by purchasing it, I might as well have killed the whale myself.
First, let me remind everyone: This is an ANTIQUE. Could be a hundred years old for all I know, I bought it in an antique store because it was SCREAMING for me to take it. I have a deep love and respect for whales, and I hate what I know must have been done to this poor creature, but leaving it there was not going to undo what had been done LONG BEFORE I WAS BORN, and the pendant CHOSE me.
I was then told, in no uncertain, bitchy tones, that ivory of any kind had absolutely NO magical properties, except for whatever was left of the animal’s spirit that remained.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware that this tooth still contains something of the animal’s spirit. I feel him looming over me whenever I touch it, at first an angry presence, but then a guarding one. I could write novels of what I experience when touching this tooth, but that would stray too far from the topic. Other than the overwhelming persona that remains very much alive within this tooth though, I feel other properties, within the structure of the ivory itself. I asked if it was possible that, since ivory is mostly calcium, if it could have similar properties to other stones that have a very high calcium structure. Again, I was shot down, in incredibly bitchy tones and words, saying that no product of an animal could have magical properties. I then presented the question regarding my fossil piece, suggesting that, since all the organic materials have been replaced with minerals, perhaps it would have the same properties as the stone around it? I was then told that, “That’s not how magic works”.
If a fossilized bone is now molecularly identical with, say, a piece of granite, why would that fossil not have similar properties to granite that has always been granite?
Take opalized ammonite. Sure, plenty of witches I’ve met agree that opalized ammonite has similar properties to Opal. Because, gee, it’s a fossil created under the same conditions that opal is created. But I have also met plenty of witches who insist ammonite has no mystical aspects, that it’s only use is to look pretty. Where do you get your logic?!
I have asked about using shed Shark’s Teeth as wand tips, and was told that, while it would be aesthetically pleasing, it would have no impact on the wand itself, since bones and teeth have no magical properties.
But again, Shark Ivory. Calcium based substance. Theoretically, it should have similar properties to say, Calcite, Limestone, or Marble. Hell, it seems generally acknowledged that pearls have magical properties.. Pearls are, not only mostly calcium, but they are an animal by-product, as much as teeth and bone! So, scientifically speaking, if calcite and marble have magical properties, then so should teeth and bone!
And sure, one could argue that that was an isolated incident, that a group of people sharing archaic beliefs or moral prejudices ganged up on me because I was an outsider who somehow offended their sensibilities. But that doesn’t explain all the times that I’ve tried becoming active in other pagan communities in three different cities, and at one point, whenever I’ve suggested using scientific fact or theory to enhance the Craft, I was told some variation of, “You’re ruining it”.
Again, ENHANCE the Craft. Not rationalize it, not disprove it, not replace it. ENHANCE.
Understanding how something works will only HELP you use it better! Yes, I know, the science we understand in this day and age still cannot explain many things in the Craft, but the science we DO know doesn’t cancel it out, either!
Witches everywhere I have been have treated me like some kind of pariah because I’ve been interested in the science behind why this stuff works. I suggested magnetic polarity between atmosphere and earth as the ‘fuel’ behind pendulum work and dowsing. Was told by a matronly baby boomer witch that I was overthinking it. I theorized that tarot and rune stones work for divination because of primal genetic memory from a time when our ancestors painted their stories on cave walls, I was told by a superior witch who knew so much more than I did that divination was a gift from the gods and that I shouldn’t question it so much, or it wouldn’t work for me. When I thought out loud that the structure of the soil plants were grown in probably changed the properties of those plants in subtle ways, since plants absorb so much of their nutrients from that soil, I was snapped at that, I wasn’t a Green Witch, so I shouldn’t talk about things I don’t understand.
This isn’t how we should be! We should embrace the sciences we DO understand! Knowing the shapes and strengths of a crystal’s structure will help you utilize the crystal to a fuller potential, AND help you in Cleansing it properly! Because, guess what? If you don’t understand that the structural makeup of that particular crystal is mostly sodium or alkali. you’re not going to know that cleansing it in water will destroy it! BECAUSE SCIENCE.
tl;dr: To understand is not to weaken. Too often, modern witches willfully lose themselves in the dark, screaming “Science is blasphemy!” when knowledge should be embraced.
“There were great, grim, sky dragons that nested on the cliff tops like gigantic scary birds. Little, brown, scuttly dragons that hunted down the mice and rats in well-organized packs. Preposterously huge Sea Dragons that were twenty times as big as the Big Blue Whale and who killed for the fun of it
You will have to take my word for it, for the dragons are disappearing so fast they may soon become extinct.”