The world is a scary place and human beings are pretty fragile. Sometimes it is nice to sink into a realm of escapism where a protagonist has a magical pet that always has their back and looks cool. They might have a flying bison to help them escape from a stressful situation or a charizard to protect them from danger. Their pet seems to solve any problem they come across.

In our bleak reality, the best you can hope for is that someone builds a time machine so you can befriend one of the bizarre organisms that our planet has come up with in the last four billion years. So, if you ever get the chance to go back in time, here are the animals I recommend you ally yourself with.

6. Glyptodon

A moving illustration of a Glyptodon.
  • Role: aesthetic
  • Location: present day South America; migrated into Central America during the Great American Interchange
  • Can you ride it?: Yes.
  • Special abilities: Covered head-to-tail in bony armor known as “osteoderms,” similar to modern armadillos. Its spiked tail added extra defense.
  • Drawbacks: While it could be ridden, there wouldn’t be much point — its legs were too tiny to move very fast or go far.
  • Fun fact: Scientists theorize that ancient humans hunted them to use their shells as shelter.

During the Pliocene Epoch, the Isthmus of Panama rose out of the ocean and connected the North and South American continents. As a result, animals from North America migrated south and vice versa.

5. Basilosaurus

A moving illustration of a Basilosaurus.
  • Role: underwater questing
  • Location: Atlantic Ocean
  • Can you ride it?: Maybe, if you have scuba gear.
  • Special abilities: It was a 65-foot sea monster and was an apex predator.
  • Drawbacks: This was an aquatic mammal, so it would be hard to coordinate with. It had an especially small brain for its size and was incapable of the complex communication that we associate with whales today.
  • Fun fact: Basilosaurus was originally thought to be a reptile, but it was actually a whale. Like all whales, it’s descended from terrestrial mammals. So after all the effort of learning to walk on land, its ancestors went back to live in the ocean.

4. Andrewsarchus

A moving illustration of an Andrewsarchus.
  • Role: protection
  • Location: Inner Mongolia, China
  • Can you ride it?: Yes.
  • Special abilities: With jaws like those, no one will try to approach you.
  • Drawbacks: A 1,000 pound wolf-hog is maybe not what the present day needs.
  • Fun fact: Though it looked somewhat like a present-day dog, it was more closely related to sheep or goats.

3. Repenomamus

A moving illustration of a Repanomamus.
  • Role: companion
  • Location: Liaoning, China
  • Can you ride it?: No, but it could ride on your shoulder.
  • Special abilities: It was basically a more interesting version of a house cat.
  • Drawbacks: Its poison spurs would make it difficult to cuddle with.
  • Fun fact: This mammal was alive after the largest dinosaurs had died and mammals were starting to take over. It likely fed on small dinosaurs.

Earth looked much different during repenomamus’ time due to continental drift. The map shown here shows where its fossils have been found on present-day Earth. This is true, although to a lesser extent, to all of the animals described here.

2. Paraceratherium

A moving illustration of a Paraceratherium.

Role: transportation
Location: across Eurasia
Can you ride it?: Absolutely.
Special abilities: As a migratory species, paraceratherium could easily travel long distances. Its territory alone was over 1,000 square kilometers.
Drawbacks: Feeding, housing, and taking care of one of these would be expensive.
Fun fact: This was the second-largest land mammal to ever exist, after the Asian straight-tusked elephant, which lived at the same time as the megatherium.

1. Megatherium

A moving illustration of a Megatherium.
  • Role: well-rounded
  • Location: South America
  • Can you ride it?: Yes.
  • Special abilities: Their big claws were strong enough to take down trees.
  • Drawbacks: Walking on the sides of its feet most likely slowed it down.
  • Fun fact: The largest member of the ground sloth family. It was alive at the same time as humans, who probably hunted it to extinction.
A timeline of when these prehistoric fauna lived.