Pampaphoneus biccai was said to be a giant predator long before the dinosaurs. Photo/Science Alert
RIO DE JANEIRO – Harvard University scientists discovered the skull of a giant predator long before the dinosaurs. The fossil skull of Pampaphoneus biccai measures 36 cm and its body weight is estimated to reach 400 kg.
A newly discovered skull reveals this fearsome animal dominated 40 million years before the first dinosaurs lived on Earth. 265 million year old fossils discovered in Brazil reveal the largest meat eater of its time prowled the jungle for prey.
“This animal is a vicious-looking animal, and definitely causes fear in anything that crosses it,” said Harvard University paleontologist Stephanie Pierce, quoted by SINDOnews from the Science Alert page, Tuesday (19/9/2023).
A nearly complete fossil skull of Pampaphoneus biccai measuring nearly 36 cm was discovered along with skeletal bones near Sao Gabriel in Southern Brazil. Pampaphoneus belongs to the early therapsid clade Dinocephalia.
This is a large group of generally large and frightening land animals that developed before T. rex and friends. Dinocephalians were not all carnivorous, but Pampaphoneus believed it was.
“The animal had large, sharp canine teeth adapted for catching prey. “Its teeth and skull architecture suggest that its bite was strong enough to chew bone, like modern-day hyenas,” said Felipe Pinheiro, a paleontologist from the Federal University of Pampa (UNIPAMPA) in Brazil.
Pampaphoneus lived at the end of the Permian period, just before the mass extinction event that wiped out 86% of all animal species on Earth. Fossils of other dinocephalians have previously been found in Russia and South Africa, but Pampaphoneus biccai is the only species known in Brazil.
Pampaphoneus was an amazing animal with a height of about 3 meters and an estimated maximum weight of 400 kilograms. Pampaphoneus’ prey were the small reptile Rastodon and the giant amphibian Konzhukovia. The large size of Pampaphoneus makes these two creatures look like snacks.