231 million years ago, a giant two-legged crocodile called the Carolina Butcher sat comfortably atop the food chain. It was the most fearsome predator at the time, and is one of the largest crocodile ancestors ever found.
The butcher existed before the time of the dinosaurs, and its status as top predator increases the phylogenetic diversity of known predators of the era.
Body: 3 meters long
Head: longer than half a meter; has a "slender and ornamented skull."
Celebrity doppelganger: Trogdor.
Before dinosaurs ruled what is now North America, the Carolina Butcher topped the predator charts. A reconstruction of this newly identified species suggests that Carnufex carolinensis was 3 meters long and looked a lot like living crocodiles — except it walked on two legs, not four. Researchers led by North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences paleontologist Lindsay Zanno found its fossilized skull, spine and arm bones in 231-million-year-old rock deposits in central North Carolina.