The researchers have unearthed fossils of a salamander-like species belonging to the prehistoric period, indicating that these amphibians were among the top predators on Earth 200 million years ago.
The species, known as Metoposaurus algarvensis, had lived at the time when there was rise of dinosaur, and part of a wider primitive amphibians group widespread mainly at low latitudes 220-230 million years ago.
The excavated bones were discovered buried at the ancient lake site in southern Portugal.
According to the researchers, they were nearly two meters in length. They lived in rivers and lakes during the Late Triassic Period. The creatures lived mainly like today’s crocodiles and fed mainly on fish, as per the researchers.
The species is the first member of the group to be uncovered in the Iberian Peninsula. They were actually distant relatives of the salamanders of today. The findings reveal that this amphibians group was more geographically diverse than earlier believed.
The researchers said that the fossil remains of species belonged to the group that was found in parts of modern day Africa, India Europe, and North America. On the other hand, the differences in the jaw and skull structure of the fossils were found in Portugal and it was found that they belonged to a separate species.
“The amphibian appears just like something out of a bad monster flick. 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,” said Dr Steve Brusatte, lead study author, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.
The findings of the study were published in the journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.