A team of paleontologists found that a prehistoric crocodile that was approximately 9 foot tall was top predator and ruled the warm and wet regions of what is now North Carolina almost 230 million years ago. This happened even before the dinosaurs entered the scene, according to the researchers.
This early ancestor of the modern crocodile was named Carnufex carolinensis and it’s believed to have preyed on other reptiles and prehistoric mammals, while walking on its hind legs.
Its name, Crnufex, means is Latin for “butcher”, and scientists chose it because the prehistoric crocodile had a long skull which looks a bit like a knife. Also, “butcher” describes perfectly the creature’s razor sharp bladelike teeth, which were used for ripping the flesh of its prey.
Lindsay Zanno, on the scientists who studied the ancient crocodile, said that the name “butcher” fits the creature like a glove and was chosen so that people could imagine how ferocious this animal was.
The creature is one of the earliest animals that belong to the crocodylomorph group, which includes the modern crocodile and its close relatives.
Also, the recently discovered prehistoric crocodile is proof of how diverse were the top predators that lived during that age.
According to Zanno, not many people know that there were many different predatory creatures during the Triassic Period, and this ancient crocodile was king long before the dinosaurs.
The researchers discovered the remains of the crocodile, including parts of its skull, spine and some arm bones in the Pekin Formation in Chatham County, NC.
After analyzing the fossils, the scientist discovered that the sediments deposited in that area were approximately 230 million years old, belonging to what it’s known as the late Triassic Period.
During these prehistoric times, the area where the crocodile remains where unearthed was still part of Pangaea, the supercontinents located near the equator.
Zanno explained in her study there is no evidence of dinosaurs living around the equator in that period.
The prehistoric crocodile managed to reach is large size mostly because there weren’t many predator dinosaurs to mess with him.
The new study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Image Source: gizmodo
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