10 Prehistoric Battles That Could (and Probably Did) Happen

Whenever one dinosaur (or shark, or prehistoric mammal) lived in close proximity to another dinosaur (or shark, or prehistoric mammal), it's a near certainty that the two came into contact--either as part of an existing predator-prey relationship, in a savage competition for food, resources, or living space, or simply by accident. To judge by the available fossil evidence, as well as the ironclad rules of logic, the following are the ten most likely encounters that might have taken place between roughly equally matched prehistoric animals--or, as we like to call them, Dinosaur Death Duels. 

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Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus

allosaurus stegosaurus

Just as T. Rex and Triceratops were the premier predator-prey pair of the late Cretaceous period, so Allosaurus and Stegosaurus were the top-of-the-bill contestants during the late Jurassic. One of these dinosaurs was characterized by its plates and spiked tail; the other by its huge, sharp teeth and voracious appetite. Here's everything you need to know about Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus.

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Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Triceratops

tyrannosaurus rex triceratops

Number one and number two on the all-time dinosaur popularity charts, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops were both denizens of late Cretaceous North America, 65 million years ago, and paleontologists have solid evidence that the two occasionally met in close-quarters combat. Here's a recap of Dinosaur Death Duel's headline bout, Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Triceratops.

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Megalodon vs. Leviathan

megalodon leviathan
Left, Megalodon (Alex Brennan Kearns); right, Leviathan (C. Letenneur).

Megalodon and Leviathan were two very evenly matched opponents: a 50-foot-long, 50-ton prehistoric shark and a 50-foot-long, 50-ton prehistoric whale (give or take a few feet or a few tons for any given individual). We know these gigantic predators occasionally swam in each others' wake; the question is, who would come out on top in a battle between Megalodon and Leviathan?

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The Cave Bear vs. the Cave Lion

cave bear cave lion

You might think, from their names, that the Cave Bear and the Cave Lion lived in close proximity. The fact is, though, that whereas the Cave Bear actually lived in caves during the Pleistocene epoch, the Cave Lion received its name because its fossils were found entombed in Cave Bear dens. How did that happen, you may ask? Read all about it in the Cave Bear vs. the Cave Lion.

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Spinosaurus vs. Sarcosuchus

spinosaurus sarcosuchus

Spinosaurus was the largest meat-eating dinosaur that ever lived, outweighing Tyrannosaurus Rex by one or two tons. Sarcosuchus was the biggest crocodile that ever lived, making modern crocs look like salamanders by comparison. These two enormous reptiles both made their home in late Cretaceous South America. Who wins in a bout between Spinosaurus and Sarcosuchus?

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Argentinosaurus vs. Giganotosaurus

argentinosaurus giganotosaurus

Huge, hundred-ton titanosaurs like Argentinosaurus were virtually immune from large predators. Immune, that is, except for occasional depredations by packs of hungry Giganotosaurus, a ravenous dinosaur that rivaled both T. Rex and Spinosaurus in size. Could two or three full-grown Giganotosaurus hope to take down a full-grown Argentinosaurus? Read our analysis in Argentinosaurus vs. Giganotosaurus - Who Wins?

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The Dire Wolf vs. the Saber-Toothed Tiger

dire wolf saber-toothed tiger

Thousands of fossil specimens of the Dire Wolf (Canis dirus) and the Saber-Toothed Tiger (Smilodon fatalis) have been recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. These predators subsisted on the same prey during the Pleistocene epoch, which makes it likely that they faced off occasionally over especially toothsome quarry. Here's the blow-by-blow for the Dire Wolf vs. the Saber-Toothed Tiger.

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Utahraptor vs. Iguanodon

utahraptor iguanodon

Iguanodon: big, ungainly, and far from the smartest dinosaur on the block. Utahraptor: less than one-fifth Iguanodon's size, but the largest raptor that ever lived, equipped with huge, sharp hind claws that would have done a Saber-Toothed Tiger proud. It's a good bet that Iguanodon featured on Utahraptor's lunch menu; for more on this bloody encounter, see Iguanodon vs. Utahraptor - Who Wins?

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Protoceratops vs. Velociraptor

protoceratops velociraptor

We know, for an absolute certainty, that Protoceratops and Velociraptor encountered each other in one-on-one combat. How? Well, because paleontologists have discovered the entwined skeletons of these central Asian dinosaurs, locked in desperate battle before they were both buried by a sudden sandstorm. Here's a description of what probably went down between Protoceratops and Velociraptor.

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Carbonemys vs. Titanoboa

carbonemys titanoboa

At first glance, Carbonemys and Titanoboa might seem to be the unlikeliest matchup on this list. The former was a one-ton turtle coverd by a six-foot-long shell; the latter was a 50-foot long, 2,000-pound snake. The fact is, though, that both of these reptiles lived in the dank, humid swamps of Paleocene South America, rendering a Carbonemys vs. Titanoboa free-for-all pretty much inevitable.

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Strauss, Bob. "10 Prehistoric Battles That Could (and Probably Did) Happen." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/prehistoric-battles-could-probably-did-happen-1092475. Strauss, Bob. (2021, February 16). 10 Prehistoric Battles That Could (and Probably Did) Happen. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/prehistoric-battles-could-probably-did-happen-1092475 Strauss, Bob. "10 Prehistoric Battles That Could (and Probably Did) Happen." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/prehistoric-battles-could-probably-did-happen-1092475 (accessed May 31, 2023).