These were classic carnivores, long before the Jurassic period.
A new archaeological study has revealed more evidence that the predators said to have “dominated” the Earth 40 million years before dinosaurs “were the largest and most bloodthirsty carnivores” of that era.
An almost complete skull of Pampaphoneus bccai, estimated to be 265 million years old, has been found in fossil form in the southern rural area of São Gabriel, Brazil.
“This animal was a strange-looking beast, and it must have inspired intense fear in anything that crossed its path,” said one of the scientists involved, Stephanie E. Pierce, co-author of the paper. Paper published by Harvard University In partnership with other organizations.
“Its discovery is key to providing a glimpse into the societal structure of terrestrial ecosystems before the largest mass extinction ever,” she added.
This was the second skull of its kind found in South America.
Lead author Matthews A. said: Costa Santos: “Finding a new Bambaphonus skull after a long time was extremely important for increasing our knowledge of the animal, which had previously been difficult to distinguish from its Russian relatives.”
The monster was also known to roam the region we now know as Russia.
Pampaphoneus biccai was part of the therapsid family – which were ancient ancestors of mammals – known as dinocephalians.
They lived before the largest extinction event in Earth’s history that wiped out 86% of all animal species worldwide. According to a press release announcing the completion of the study.
For modern Neanderthals living under a rock, the extinction event was caused by a large asteroid that struck Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago.
“Before the extinction event, decapitated animals were one of the major groups of large terrestrial animals that flourished on Earth.” Advertisement addednoting that the “medium to large” sized creatures — which can reach about 10 feet in length and weigh about 882 pounds — were also herbivores among them.
“Pampaphoneus played the same ecological role as modern big cats,” said study lead author Felipe Pinheiro.
He added: “It was the largest terrestrial predator we know from the Permian period in South America. The animal had large, sharp fangs adapted for grabbing prey. Its teeth and skull structure suggest that its bite was powerful enough to chew bone, just like modern-day hyenas.
These dinosaur ancestors were particularly known for having “thick skull bones.”
This formation inspired the long name “bicephalus,” which translates to “terrible head” in Greek.
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