Researchers at the University of Pampa in Brazil have found a 265 million-year-old fossil that reveals the largest predator of its time.
The fossilized skull belonged entirely to Pampaphoneus biccai, a creature that once claimed the title of the largest and fiercest carnivore in South America.
The animal lived at the end of the Permian, before the largest mass extinction on record wiped out 86% of all animal species on Earth.
King of the Earth’s animals
Pampafonos must have been an amazing sight, standing 3 meters high and weighing an estimated 400 kilograms.
Watch the video of the Bambaphonius skull:
It wasn’t just the size that made the animal stand out.
The skull measures 36 centimetres, and is compact in size, indicating that Bambaphonus belonged to the Tyrannosaurus group – a group of terrifying land animals with huge skulls that lived before Tyrannosaurus rex and giant dinosaurs. The name can be translated as “hard heads”.
“Pampaphonus was the largest land predator we know of from the Permian of South America,” says the study’s lead author, Mateus Costa Santos, a paleontologist at the University of Pampa.
Not all dinocephalans were predators, but Bambaphonus certainly was.
“The animal had large, sharp tusks that were adapted to catch prey. The teeth and skull indicate that the bite was powerful enough to break bones, as in hyenas today,” says Felipe Pinheiro, a paleontologist and co-author of the study.
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