Quirks & Quarks

Prehistoric Crocodile was a "Carolina Butcher"

This top predator was a crocodile ancestor that could walk on its hind legs.

Bipedal crocodile ancestor lived 230 million years ago

Reconstruction of Carnufex carolinensis (Jorge Gonzales)
Fossils of an ancestor to the modern crocodile were recently found in North Carolina. The 231-million-year-old fossils included a skull, spine and forelimbs of what was a nearly 3-metre-long juvenile ancient crocodile that was able to walk on its hind legs.

The fossils were studied by paleontologists from North Carolina State University, including graduate student Susan DrymalaCarnufex carolinensis, or 'Carolina Butcher', filled the role of top predator during that period.

It did not survive the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic, but smaller bodied crocodile ancestors did, and gave rise to the species we know today.     

Related Links

Paper in Nature's Scientific Reports
- North Carolina State University release
Reuters/CBC News story
LiveScience story 

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