This creature may look soft and cuddly just like Woola in the film “John Carter,” but Metoposaurus algarvensis – a previously undiscovered species of crocodile-like amphibian – was actually one of the top predators back in the age of dinosaurs.
The creatures grew up to 2m in length and lived in lakes and rivers during the Late Triassic Period, living much like crocodiles do today and feeding mainly on fish, researchers say.
Metoposaurus algarvensis lived at the same time as the first dinosaurs began their dominance, which lasted for over 150 million years. These primitive amphibians formed part of the ancestral stock from which modern amphibians – such as frogs and newts – evolved. And they were distant relatives of the salamanders of today.
Dr. Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “This new amphibian looks like something out of a bad monster movie. It was as long as a small car and had hundreds of sharp teeth in its big flat head, which kind of looks like a toilet seat when the jaws snap shut. It was the type of fierce predator that the very first dinosaurs had to put up with if they strayed too close to the water, long before the glory days of T. rex and Brachiosaurus.”
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