Meet the Fearsome 'Carolina Butcher' That Ruled Before Dinosaurs

PHOTO: A life reconstruction of Carnufex carolinensis, a newly discovered crocodilian ancestor.Jorge Gonzales
A life reconstruction of Carnufex carolinensis, a newly discovered crocodilian ancestor.

A newly-discovered ferocious crocodile relative that ran on its hind legs and terrorized North America before dinosaurs arrived certainly earned the name "Carolina Butcher."

Unlike its modern relatives, the Carolina Butcher was land dwelling and likely snacked on smaller prey, including armored relatives and early mammal relatives, according to researchers at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

The fearsome 9-foot animal that lived 230 million years ago in the wet, warm region of the super-continent Pangaea that is now North Carolina.

Paleontologists were able to glean new insights about the fearsome animal that lived 230 million years ago by analyzing broken pieces of the crocodile's skull, spine and leg that were found in the Pekin Formation in Chatham County.

The bones were scanned and paleontologists were able to create a 3-D model of the animal, providing a clearer picture of the creature.

"If you want to picture these animals, just think of a modern day fox, but with alligator skin instead of fur," Susan Drymala, a co-author of the paper in Scientific Reports, said in a statement.

The Carolina Butcher's reign of terror didn't last long, according to researchers. It was killed off as the Triassic period came to an end, making way for even more terrifying predatory dinosaurs.