Fearsome croc called the Carolina Butcher once ruled the north | Science News

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Fearsome croc called the Carolina Butcher once ruled the north

Fossil find pegs giant, bipedal reptile as a top predator 230 million years ago

6:00am, March 19, 2015
croc fossil

WHAT A CROC  Carnufex carolinensis, shown in this artist’s illustration, looked a lot like living crocodiles, but it walked on two legs, not four.

Before dinosaurs ruled what is now North America, the Carolina Butcher topped the predator charts. 

A reconstruction of this newly identified species suggests that Carnufex carolinensis was 3 meters long and looked a lot like living crocodiles — except it walked on two legs, not four. Researchers led by North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences paleontologist Lindsay Zanno found its fossilized skull, spine and arm bones in 231-million-year-old rock deposits in central North Carolina.

C. carolinensis is one of the oldest and largest crocodile ancestors identified to date. Its size and stature also suggest that for a time, it was one of the top predators in the part of the supercontinent Pangaea that became North America, Zanno and colleagues write March 19 in Scientific Reports.

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