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The Meg's monstrous Megalodon and 5 other creatures we're glad are extinct

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Prepare for some nail-biting shark action on a mammoth scale when you go and watch The Meg in Cineworld. This US-Chinese collaboration stars action icon Jason Statham as diver Jonas Taylor, who finds himself face-to-teeth with a giant shark while on a rescue mission.

Unfortunately for him, this isn't your average great white, but a megalodon. Literally meaning "big tooth", megalodons could weigh up to a staggering 60 tons and measure an incredible 56ft. Thankfully, though, these monsters have been extinct for at least 2 million years – as far as we know, anyway.

But the megalodon isn't the only terrifying movie monster to have once roamed the Earth. Here are five other beasties we're glad are now extinct...

1. Velociraptors

Features in: The Jurassic Park series (1993-2018)

If the Jurassic Park films have taught us anything about dinosaurs, it's that they're both fascinating and terrifying. But, as much as we're awed by our prehistoric predecessors, we're pretty grateful that the vicious velociraptor didn't survive the extinction.

Living in the Cretaceous Period around 75 million years ago, velociraptors ("swift seizer") were notorious for their running speeds and razor sharp claws believed to have been used for disembowelling prey. This gruesome information only serves to make that nightmare-inducing kitchen sequence from Jurassic Park all-the-more tense, knowing the fate that would have befallen kids Lex and Tim.

However, some creative liberties were taken when bringing the raptors to the big screen. Whereas in the films they were known for hunting in packs, in reality there is little proof to support this. Moreover, these ferocious beasts are now thought to have been 50cm tall and covered in feathers. So maybe they weren't that terrifying after all, but we still wouldn't want to find out.


2. Pterodactyls

Features in: Rodan (1956)

There are a lot of harrowing moments in the Jurassic Park series, but perhaps none more so than the pterodactyl attack from Jurassic World, which saw a swarm of the winged carnivorous reptiles wreak havoc in the park.

However, if you really want to see these flying terrors take centre stage, then look no further than classic Toho monster movie Rodan. The titular kaiju ('giant creature') of this sci-fi favourite isn't exactly a historically accurate representation of the creatures that once ruled the skies around 150 million years ago. For instance, an adult's wingspan is estimated to have been just over 1m, nowhere near the size of the film's building-sized bird.

The biggest worry we have from birds these days is a seagull stealing our ice cream, but Rodan, like Jurassic World, reinforced just how helpless we'd be if pterodactyls still roamed the Earth. This classic kaiju returns next year to battle oversized lizard Godzilla in next year's Godzilla: King of the Monsters.


3. Smilodon

Features in: 10,000 BC (2008)

Even after all the dinosaurs had vanished from the face of the Earth, there were still plenty of menacing creatures around to give primitive humans some trouble. A particularly ferocious beast was the Smilodon (you might know it as the sabre-tooth tiger), which prowled the Americas 10,000 years ago.

Weighing up to 400kg and standing 120cm tall, the Smilodon was one of many prehistoric sabre-toothed cats named primarily for their massive curved canines. Despite often being called a tiger, it actually has no relation to the ferocious feline we know today.

Running into a Smilodon must have been an unnerving ordeal for an early human. And you can experience this feeling for yourself in prehistoric adventure 10,000 BC in the exhilarating scene where protagonist D'Leh (Steven Strait) risks his own life to save one of these animals from drowning.

While some liberties were taken with the animal's size, the movie serves as a visual representation of just how powerful Smilodon was.


4. Gigantopithecus

Features in: King Kong (2005)

You might think that a giant ape climbing the Empire State Building could only happen in the movies, but giant apes did once exist – and we lived alongside them. Gigantopithecus ('giant ape'), however, weren't quite the size of Kong and didn't originate from a lost island inhabited by dinosaurs.

In reality, these apes grew to 3m tall with a weight of up to 270kg and lived in southeast Asia around 100,000 years ago. Closely related to the Orangutan, little is known about these animals.

However, a recent study suggests that their extinction was caused by a lack of food to sustain their huge size. Fun fact: this prehistoric primate was actually discovered accidentally after some of its teeth were found in a Hong Kong pharmacy in 1935 – two years after the original King Kong hit theatres. (In the recent Jungle Book remake, groovy orangutan King Louie was reimagined as a gigantopithecus, voiced by Christopher Walken.)


5. Titanoboa

Features in: Anaconda series (1997-2009)

Ophidiophobes (those with a fear of snakes), look away now. Lurking in the swamps of what is now northeast Columbia around 60 million years ago, titanoboa is the largest snake ever discovered.

Growing up to 42ft long and weighing a crushing 1,135kg, this monster is just over twice as big as an anaconda, which consequently makes the eponymous man-eating snakes from the Anaconda films look almost friendly in comparison.

Although titanoboa isn't an anaconda, this giant shares a lot in common with its film counterpart. They both live in rainforests and each like to asphyxiate their prey, but whereas the anacondas in the film were happy to chow down on Jon Voight, titanboa's preferred giant turtles and crocodiles.

Click here to book your tickets for The Meg, out now in Cineworld, and tweet us your thoughts on the Statham-shark stand-off @Cineworld.

Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.