It doesn’t make a lot of sense that humans were able to make it to the top of the food chain. Unlike alpha predators, humans lack speed, strength, or any natural defenses like sharp horns or powerful claws. We’re actually pretty frail, all thing considered. This begs the question: If people are so easy to catch, then why didn’t a creature evolve to take advantage of that?

But as it turns out, one did.

You might not know it, one animal once evolved as a specialist predator on humans. And it is particularly terrifying.

Humans haven’t always been at the top of the food chain. In fact, there’s evidence that we were once the preferred prey of a species of big cats.

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These felines, called Dinofelis, had strong, dagger-like teeth…

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… That were especially useful for puncturing human skulls.

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Dinofelis’s skull-crushing ability made it especially deadly to our ancestors.

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Scientist Bruce Chatwin speculates that it was because of Dinofelis that human beings invented spears, making our defenses against these killer cats a driving force behind human evolution. 

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It is also believed that human babies’ instinctive fear of big cats evolved because of the threat of Dinofelis, which makes perfect sense when you look at its chompers. 

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Today, our “predators” look a bit different. It isn’t the big cats we fear, but smaller creatures like mosquitos who can spread crippling illnesses like malaria, and more recently, the Zika virus.

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There’s also bacteria, which, due to the overuse of antibiotics, has evolved to become stronger and more dangerous than ever before. 

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Still, there’s something about this creature that gets my heart pumping just a little bit faster.

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Author and journalist David Hambling speculates that “our apparently universal fear of silent, night-roaming monsters may be an ancestral memory of the man-eater faced by our cave-dwelling ancestors.” Yikes.

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