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Scientists find skull of Pampaphoneus biccai predator that ruled 40million years before dinosaurs | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

A complete skull of a terrifying predator that ruled South America 40million years before the dinosaurs has been discovered. Scientists say that the “gnarly-looking” beast, called Pampaphoneus biccai, was the biggest and “most bloodthirsty” meat eater of its time – and would have triggered “sheer dread” in anything that crossed its path.

An international research team made the “astounding” discovery of the 265million-year-old and “exquisitely preserved” fossil of the predator in the rural area of São Gabriel in Brazil. It includes a complete skull and some skeletal bones, including ribs and arm bones.

Pampaphoneus lived just before the largest extinction event in the history of Earth, which eliminated 86% of all animal species worldwide. It was one of the dinocephalians – one of the major groups of large terrestrial animals that thrived on land. They were medium to large-sized creatures with both carnivore and herbivore species.

Scientists say dinocephalians had thick cranial bones, which led to the group’s name which translates to “terrible head” in Greek. While well-known in South Africa and Russia, the animals were rare in other parts of the world. Pampaphoneus biccai is the only known species in Brazil.

Study lead author Mateus Costa Santos, of the Federal University of Pampa (UNIPAMPA), said: “The fossil was found in middle Permian rocks, in an area where bones are not so common, but always hold pleasant surprises. Finding a new Pampaphoneus skull after so long was extremely important for increasing our knowledge about the animal, which was previously difficult to differentiate from its Russian relatives.”

Palaeontologists collected the fossil over one month of fieldwork. Due to the pandemic, it took an additional three years for the fossil to be cleaned and thoroughly studied.

The skull of the new Pampaphoneus biccai specimen(Image: Felipe Pinheiro/SWNS)

Co-author Professor Stephanie Pierce, of Harvard University in the US, said: “This animal was a gnarly-looking beast and it must have evoked sheer dread in anything that crossed its path. Its discovery is key to providing a glimpse into the community structure of terrestrial ecosystems just prior to the biggest mass extinction of all time. A spectacular find that demonstrates the global importance of Brazil’s fossil record.”

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