A previously undiscovered species of crocodile-like amphibian that walked with dinosaurs was among Earth’s most deadly creatures according to Paleontologists.
Described as “something out of a bad monster movie” they grew up to two metres in length and lived in lakes and rivers during the Late Triassic Period.
The prehistoric species – which looked like giant salamanders – was discovered after excavating bones buried on the site of an ancient lake in southern Portugal.
They lived at the same time as the first dinosaurs began their dominance, which lasted for over 150 million years.
These primitive amphibians, which have been named Metoposaurus algarvensis, formed part of the ancestral stock from which modern amphibians – such as frogs and newts.
Only a fraction of the site – around four square meters – has been excavated so far, and there is now hope more new fossils will be unearthed.
Most members the group of giant salamander-like amphibians was wiped out during a mass extinction 201 million years ago, long before the death of the dinosaurs.
This marked the end of the Triassic Period, when the supercontinent of Pangea – which included all the world’s present-day continents – began to break apart.
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.”
Dr Richard Butler, of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “Most modern amphibians are pretty tiny and harmless.
“But back in the Triassic these giant predators would have made lakes and rivers pretty scary places to be.”