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Was a Prehistoric Crocodile North America’s Top Predator?

posted: 03/19/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Carnufex carolinensis
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Illustration of new crocodile ancestor, Carnufex carolinensis
Jorge Gonzales

Paleontologists at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Scientists announced the discovery of Carnufex carolinensis, a vicious 9-foot-long crocodilian ancestor that enjoyed life at the top of the food chain.

Nicknamed the "Carolina Butcher", the crocodylomorph is believed to have walked on its hind legs and dined on armored reptiles and early mammals.

"We knew that there were too many top performers on the proverbial stage in the Late Triassic," remarked Lindsay Zanno, lead author of the study, in a news release. "Yet, until we deciphered the story behind Carnufex, it wasn't clear that early crocodile ancestors were among those vying for top predator roles prior to the reign of dinosaurs in North America."

As the crocodylomorph went extinct, small dinosaurs became the continent's top predators.

Click here for the full press release from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

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