rauisuchids

The Carolina Butcher

Last year, a new species of crocodilian relative was discovered from Late Triassic North Carolina.  Dubbed Carnufex carolinensis - “the Carolina butcher” - this animal grew up to nine feet long, and was capable of walking on its hind legs.

Carnufex is interesting for being a basal crocodylomorph - a member of the clade that includes modern crocodilians.  This proves that crocodylomorphs were vying for apex-predator positions during the Late Triassic, along with early theropods, as well as several other groups of pseudosuchians known as rauisuchids and poposauroids.  

This extreme diversity of predators proved unsustainable, and many of these animals - including Carnufex - died out by the time the Triassic period was over.  Theropod dinosaurs became the top predators for hundreds of millions of years afterward, while Carnufex’s surviving relatives were relegated to less dominant positions.