Meet The Carolina Butcher, A Crocodile That Walked On Two Legs

As we dig deeper into our planet’s natural history, we mostly learn that it was a terrifying place to live. Apparently, that was true well before dinosaurs came along, as carnufex carolinensis, or the Carolina Butcher, proves all too effectively.

This particular lizard was 9-feet long, walked on two legs, and ate its way through the Carolinas about 230 million years ago, according to Lindsay Zanno, the assistant professor who came across the Butcher while cataloging fossils for North Carolina State University. The skull of this beast was found nearly a decade ago, but it wasn’t until Zanno hauled it out and discovered this prototype crocodile that we learned more about it.

Why aren’t we being chased around by walking crocodiles today? Essentially, this 9-foot monster got eaten by other, bigger dinosaurs as they evolved, leaving behind smaller aquatic croc relatives who evolved into the predators that make avoiding the water in Florida mandatory. So, really, we’ve got at least one reason to be thankful that the dinosaurs were voracious.