“Carolina Butcher” Prowled Triassic North America

Researchers find the oldest and largest crocodile relative yet discovered.

Bob Grant
Mar 20, 2015

An artist's reconstruction of Carnufex carolinensisCOPYRIGHT JORGE GONZALESA nine-foot-long monster stalked the Carolinas more than 230 million years ago. Carnufex carolinensis, which translates to “Carolina butcher,” walked on its hind legs and had a fearsome jaw packed with teeth, according to researchers who described fossils pulled from a North Carolina quarry in a Scientific Reports paper published yesterday (March 19). The late-Triassic bones were unearthed a decade ago and sat at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History ever since. “When we got the bones out and prepared them, we found out that it was actually a really cool species,” Lindsay Zanno, North Carolina State University researcher and lead author of the paper, told The Washington Post. “It was one of the oldest and largest members of crocodylomorph—the same group that crocodiles belong to—that we've ever seen. And that size was really surprising.”

The find rewrites...

Along with a host of other predators, C. carolinensis likely went extinct at the end of the Triassic, about 200 million years ago.