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Carnufex, new giant crocodylomorph from Late Triassic of North Carolina (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Lindsay E. Zanno, Susan Drymala, Sterling J. Nesbitt & Vincent P.
Schneider (2015)
Early crocodylomorph increases top tier predator diversity during rise
of dinosaurs.
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 9276

Triassic predatory guild evolution reflects a period of ecological
flux spurred by the catastrophic end-Permian mass extinction and
terminating with the global ecological dominance of dinosaurs in the
early Jurassic. In responding to this dynamic ecospace, terrestrial
predator diversity attained new levels, prompting unique trophic webs
with a seeming overabundance of carnivorous taxa and the evolution of
entirely new predatory clades. Key among these was Crocodylomorpha,
the largest living reptiles and only one of two archosaurian lineages
that survive to the present day. In contrast to their existing role as
top, semi-aquatic predators, the earliest crocodylomorphs were
generally small-bodied, terrestrial faunivores, occupying subsidiary
(meso) predator roles. Here we describe Carnufex carolinensis a new,
unexpectedly large-bodied taxon with a slender and ornamented skull
from the Carnian Pekin Formation (~231 Ma), representing one of the
oldest and earliest diverging crocodylomorphs described to date.
Carnufex bridges a problematic gap in the early evolution of
pseudosuchians by spanning key transitions in bauplan evolution and
body mass near the origin of Crocodylomorpha. With a skull length of
>50 cm, the new taxon documents a rare instance of crocodylomorphs
ascending to top-tier predator guilds in the equatorial regions of
Pangea prior to the dominance of dinosaurs.

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