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The Newly-Discovered 'Carolina Butcher' Stood At The Top Of The Food Chain

Carnufex carolinensis
Jorge Gonzalez
Scientific Reports
The Carnufex carolinensis has been nicknamed 'The Carolina Butcher'.

North Carolina State University researchers have identified a new species that might have been the top predator in North America before the dinosaurs. The Carnufex carolinensis has been nicknamed the 'Carolina Butcher'. 

Lindsay Zanno and Susan Drymala co-authored the study  in the journal Scientific Reports. Drymala says this Triassic ancestor of the crocodile lived at a time before mammals and reptiles split into different classes.

A diagram of the evolutionary relationships of the Carnufex carolinensis.
Credit Scientific Reports
Scientific Reports
The Carnufex carolinensis was an early crocodylomorph. This diagram shows its evolutionary relationship with other species.

"If you saw it you would probably think it was a dinosaur right off the bat. 'Cause it was something that was pretty large, still reptilian looking, but would have stood upright. It had a pretty small forearm, so it's pretty likely that it walked on its back legs."

Fossils from this predator are on display in the labs at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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