Posted By Jes S. Posted On

One Of The Ugliest And Most Ferocious Creatures That Ever Existed: Terrifying Prehistoric ‘Hell Pigs’ Once Roamed The Earth

However, “Hell Pigs” is a great name for a band.

Depiction of Daeodon shoshonensis facing left on a gray background, with its front paw raised

We are grateful this type is extinct.
Dinosaurs may seem like the most monstrous-looking prehistoric animals, but it’s best to believe that Mother Nature invented all sorts of other terrifying creatures. The example we present to you today is definitely one that we would not want to see up close: at a great distance and with a pair of binoculars it would be fine. It’s time to meet the pigs from hell.

What are the pigs of hell?

“Hell pigs” are not just one species: the term refers to several species that belong to the scientific family Entelodontidae. Despite the nickname, they are not actually pigs either. True pigs belong to a separate family known as Suidae; The pigs of hell simply look like pigs. In fact, recent research has even suggested that hell hogs may have been more closely related to hippos and cetaceans than to true pigs.

The now-extinct entelodonts are thought to have lived between 38 and 19 million years ago, and fossil evidence suggests they could be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. While we know approximately when the group became extinct, it is unknown why it did so.

What did they look like?

If we’re going to be polite, hell pigs weren’t the friendliest looking creatures, and they probably didn’t even look that much like pigs. One of its key features was a large skull with a long facial part; Species in the genus Daedon had skulls around 90 centimeters (35 in) long. Entelodonts also had bony growths on the lower jaw and, inside the mouth, large incisors and canines, much like those seen in modern carnivores.

Some of them were also terrifyingly huge. Daedon, for example, is estimated to have weighed a whopping 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds). That’s the same as some of the beefier brown bears, which suddenly seem a lot more buddy-shaped compared to an entelodont.

Some members of the group were a little smaller, which might have helped tone down the “I’m the stuff of nightmares” vibes the animals give off. However, the smallest hellhogs still weighed around 150 kilograms (331 lb), so we wouldn’t necessarily count on that.

Were they really hellish?

While they might give the appearance of a ruthless carnivore, research suggests that may not have been the case. Although previous studies had suggested that entelodonts were opportunistic hunters of large herbivores and had teeth designed to crush bones, like hyenas, research published earlier this year contradicts that theory.

The study examined the microwear pattern on the teeth of Entelodon magnus, a species found primarily in Europe. The pattern revealed an omnivorous diet similar to that of wild boars; They may have fed on roots and fruits, but they also possibly foraged for meat.

However, that doesn’t mean they can’t turn nasty when necessary. Analysis of entelodont skulls found evidence of healed bite marks that were likely made by other entelodonts, suggesting they may have engaged in combat with each other over things like territory or food.

Overall, it seems like they’re not as hellish as their name might imply, but if any of you are thinking about doing a Jurassic Park with the pigs from hell, we’d prefer you not to.