Scientists discover skull of giant predator long before dinosaurs: ScienceAlert | Albiseyler

Scientists discover skull of giant predator long before dinosaurs: ScienceAlert

Dinosaurs have a reputation as the most fearsome prehistoric predators, but a newly discovered skull sheds light on a fearsome beast that dominated 40 million years before the first “menacing lizards” walked the earth.

A 265-million-year-old fossil found in Brazil reveals the biggest meat eater of its time, one that roamed the jungle looking for unfortunate critters to munch on.

“This beast was a rough looking beast and must have struck sheer terror in anything that crossed its path,” he says Harvard University paleontologist Stephanie Pierce.

An almost complete fossilized skull Pampaphoneus biccai measuring nearly 36 cm (14.2 in) was discovered along with skeletal bones nearby Saint Gabriel in southern Brazil.

Pampaphoneus fits into the early therapeutic clade dinocephalythe main group of generally large and fearsome land animals that formerly thrived T rex and friends. Dinocephalians were not all carnivores, but Pampaphoneus he certainly was.

“The animal had large, sharp canine teeth adapted to capture prey,” he says Felipe Pinheiro, paleontologist from the Federal University of Pampa (UNIPAMPA) in Brazil.

“Its dentition and cranial architecture suggest that its bite was strong enough to chew through bone, similar to modern hyenas.”

Pampaphoneus he lived at the end Permianjust before the mass extinction – the largest ever – wiped out 86 percent of all animal species on Earth.

“The fossil was found in Middle Permian rocks, an area where bones are not that common, but always bring pleasant surprises,” he says first author Mateus A. Costa Santos, paleontologist from UNIPAMPA.

Fossils of other dinocephals have previously been found in Russia and South Africa, but Pampaphoneus biccai is the only known species in Brazil, and the team says this well-preserved fossilreveals new characters previously unknown for this species” because a smaller skull was found in 2008.

“Finding a new one Pampaphoneus the skull after so long has been extremely important to increasing our knowledge of the animal,” he says Santos, “which was previously difficult to distinguish from its Russian relatives.”

Artistic reconstruction Pampaphoneus biccai. (Marcio Castro)

Pampaphoneus it certainly wasn’t a shift. These animals were an imposing sight at towering 3 meters (10 feet) and an estimated maximum weight of a jaw-dropping 400 kilograms (882 pounds).

In the last decade, the same region has provided evidence Pampaphoneusis possible prey in a small reptile Rastodon and a huge amphibian The Konzhuks. Sheer size Pampaphoneus makes both creatures look like snacks.

Pampaphoneus played the same ecological role as modern big cats,” Pinheiro he says. “It was the largest terrestrial predator we know from the Permian of South America.”

It wasn’t just his size that made him Pampaphoneus protrude. Their skulls were densely built, like many dinocephalians, which earned the clade its apt name, which means “terrible head” in Greek.

Skull of a new specimen of Pampaphoneus biccai
Skull of a new specimen of Pampaphoneus biccai. (Felipe Pinheiro)

New information revealed by analysis of this skull leads researchers to believe that the currently unidentified jaw is from an even bigger, badder version Pampaphoneus biccai. The team says more fossils are needed to confirm the hypothesis, but it could mean the gruesome head they just studied isn’t even from an adult.

“Her discovery holds the key to insight into the community structure of terrestrial ecosystems just before the greatest mass extinction of all time,” Pierce he says. “A sensational find that demonstrates the global importance of Brazil’s fossil record.”

The research was published in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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