Paleontologists have discovered in North Carolina remains of a giant ancient proto-crocodile, Caroline butcher, whose ancestors were the main top predators of the New World in the Triassic period, long before the coming of the back of the dinosaurs, according to a paper published in the journal Scientific dinosaurs Reports.
The fossils of this period are extremely important for paleontology, as they allow us to learn about how there were also developed the first krokodiloobraznye reptiles and carnivorous dinosaurs. Both of these groups only started their evolutionary path in the Triassic and managed to survive until today in the form of crocodiles and birds. The opening of butcher, one of the earliest and largest crocodiles, tell a lot about the fight for the title of the main predator of the Earth at that time, said Lindsay sanno Lindsay Zanno from the University of North Carolina at Raleigh (USA).
Zanno and her colleagues found that the first alpha reptiles of America were not dinosaurs and giant crocodile-being, studying the middle Triassic deposits formed on the territory of the modern Chatham County in North Carolina about 231 million years ago.
How to tell paleontologists, Trias was very interesting era from the point of view of the Earth fauna looked like at the time. Among the predators was not clearly defined leader – unconditional “kings mountain food” Paleozoic, saber-toothed zveroyaschery-Gorgonopsia, became extinct during the great Permian extinction, and various groups of so-called archosaurs, which include crocodiles, dinosaurs, fought for the vacant place.
In rocks that time Zone group managed to find fragments of bones and skulls of large proto-crocodile, which form they restored using a special three-dimensional scanner. As demonstrated by computer image, its length is more than 50 centimeters. It says that its owner, named Caroline butcher, Carnufex carolinensis, was really a giant animal. Scientists estimate that its length is at least three meters and weight – a few hundred pounds. This made it the largest predator of the New World for the period, which is several times higher than on the dimensions of the closest competitors of early dinosaurs, appeared much later.
Caroline butchers and their descendants became extinct during the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period, when all the big animals of the planet, including much of the ancient echosaurs, almost completely disappeared. A new race of sizes and weapons, which this time won the dinosaurs and crocodiles were driven into the ecological niche, now the jackals and hyenas.