Brazilian paleontologists have found the near complete fossil of a fearsome predator that roamed the Earth before the dinosaurs.
The 22ft long creature, called Prestosuchus chiniquensis, lived some 238million years ago. It belonged to a family of reptiles called thecodonts and had a large, deep skull with serrated teeth and a long tail.
Weighing 900lbs, the carnivores romated Earth during the Triassic Period 250 to 205 million years ago. Dinosaurs came to dominate from 230million years ago up to their extinction 65million years ago.
The well-preserved creature was found by a team from the Lutheran University of Brazil, in the town of Dona Francisca 160miles from Porto Alegre.
‘It is something that we could never imagine – the quality of preservation and the size of the fossils are sensational,’ Professor Da Silva said.
He added: ‘They were amazing predators. This discovery will allow a better understanding of the anatomy of Prestosuchus and will facilitate a more precise reconstruction of the skeleton of the animal.’
It is also the first find that includes a well preserved hind leg, which will help scientists work out how these ancient creatures moved.
The Prestosuchus was first discovered in Brazil in 1938 by a visiting German paleontologist called Friedrich von Huene.
The remains were found in a sedimentary rock formation, which was a lake millions of years ago.
Paleontologists believe that herbivore creatures stopped to drink at the site and were ambushed by carnivores such as the Prestosuchus.
The team will now evaluate the exposed part of the animal over the next two years. They want to keep the creature, which was a close relative of the crocodile, in Brazil.