Fossils reveal “evil-looking” predators that roamed the Earth long before dinosaurs appeared

A 265-million-year-old fossil found in South America gives new insight into the large predatory species that roamed the Earth long before dinosaurs appeared.

This species is called “Pampaphoneus biccai”. According to a press release From the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. These creatures “took over” South America 40 million years before dinosaurs roamed the planet. According to the press release and A study published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Societyresearchers from around the world have found a collection of “exquisitely preserved” 265 million-year-old fossils of this creature.

The fossil species was found in São Gabriel, a rural area in southern Brazil. The fossil includes “a complete skull and some bones,” according to the press release, including rib and arm bones. It took paleontologists from the Paleontological Laboratory of the Federal University of Pampa and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul one month to collect the fossil. The researchers then spent three years cleaning and studying the skull.

Researchers at the excavation site.

Photography by Felipe Pinheiro


“This animal was a strange-looking beast, and it must have aroused intense fear of anything that crossed its path,” said study co-author Stephanie Pierce, a professor in Harvard’s Department of Evolutionary Biology. At the school’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. “Its discovery is key to providing a glimpse into the community structure of terrestrial ecosystems before the largest mass extinction ever. A stunning discovery that demonstrates the global importance of Brazil’s fossil record.”

Pampaphoneus biccai is part of a clade or group of creatures with a common ancestor. There are four main branches from the period in which these creatures existed, and they were part of the Deinocephalian clade, which had thick cranial bones and were large land animals found in South Africa and Russia. The researchers said that Pampaphoneus bccai is the only known species of dinosaur from Brazil. Researchers estimate that Pampaphoneus biccai could reach nearly three meters in length and weigh about 400 kilograms, or more than 880 pounds.

Skull of a new Pampaphoneus biccai specimen.

Photography by Felipe Pinheiro


This is only the second skull to be found in South America, according to the press release. The newly discovered skull is larger than the first and provides researchers with “unprecedented information about its shape due to the exceptional preservation of its bones.”

“Pampaphonus played the same ecological role as modern big cats,” said lead researcher Felipe Pinheiro, head of the laboratory and professor at the Federal University of Pampa. “It was the largest land predator we know of from the Permian period of South America. The animal had large, sharp tusks adapted for grasping prey. Its teeth and the structure of its skull suggest that its bite was powerful enough to chew bone, like many modern animals.” Day hyenas.”

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