This 265-million-year-old mega predator ruled South America before dinosaurs, shows study

Artistic reconstruction of Pampaphoneus biccai. Credit: Original artwork by Márcio Castro.

Before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there was an even older, super big predator that owned the land.

Scientists have discovered an amazing fossil of a creature called Pampaphoneus biccai in Brazil, and it’s a really big deal.

This beast lived about 265 million years ago, and it was a top-notch predator in its day.

What’s so special?

A group of researchers from different places, including some big universities in Brazil and Harvard, have studied this fossil.

What they found is amazing! The fossil had a full skull and some other bones like ribs and arm bones.

This is the first time a fossil of this animal has been found so complete, especially in Brazil. This tells scientists a lot about what this creature was like.

What was Pampaphoneus?

The Pampaphoneus was a type of ancient creature known as a dinocephalian. These critters lived a long, long time ago, even before a huge event wiped out 86% of all animals on Earth.

They were part of the big land animals back in their day.

Their name, “dinocephalian,” means “terrible head” in Greek. Imagine a creature with a strong, thick skull and big, scary teeth. That’s Pampaphoneus for you.

Researchers found this rare fossil in a rural area of São Gabriel in Southern Brazil.

They spent a whole month digging and working really hard every day to get this fossil out of the ground. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it took an extra three years to clean and study the fossil properly.

This fossil shows scientists what life was like just before the biggest mass extinction event ever.

Stephanie E. Pierce, one of the researchers from Harvard, said that this creature must have been terrifying to meet. She also said that finding this fossil helps everyone understand how animals lived and interacted a long time ago.

This Pampaphoneus was like the lion or tiger of its time, according to Felipe Pinheiro, another researcher.

It had big, sharp teeth that could even chew bones, much like hyenas today. The new fossil is the largest skull they’ve ever found of this creature, nearly 16 inches long! And there might be even bigger ones.

Another fossil piece suggests there could have been a Pampaphoneus twice as big as this one.

How big was it?

The biggest Pampaphoneus could have been almost 10 feet long and weighed close to 880 pounds.

It would have been at the top of the food chain, feasting on smaller creatures.

In the same area where this fossil was found, scientists also found bones of animals that might have been its dinner, like a small plant-eater called Rastodon and a big amphibian named Konzhukovia.

This amazing discovery shows that Brazil is a goldmine for understanding our planet’s ancient history. It’s not just about dinosaurs; there were incredible animals that lived even before them! So, the next time you think of big, scary predators, remember it’s not just about the dinosaurs.

There were awesome, terrifying creatures like Pampaphoneus biccai that ruled the Earth long before the dinos got their chance.

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