South America’s earliest killer revealed.

Pampaphoneus hunting a pareiasaur - Illustration by Voltaire Neto

Meet the Pampas Killer, a 265 million-year-old mammal-like reptile that stalked what is now Brazil.

The embargo has broken and I can now reveal that the Pampas Killer or Pampaphoneus biccai is the earliest land living predator to be discovered in South America.


Pampaphoneus - Illustration by Dr Juan Cisneros


It’s discovery and description appears in the latest journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr Juan Cisneros and Cesar Schultz found the skull, at a site near Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil.

This Latin American killer was about the size of a modern day leopard and cold blooded. They possibly moved in herds, a deduction made from the discovery of footprints of similar animals in the Karoo, in South Africa.

Skull of Pampaphoneus - Photo and drawing by Dr Juan Cisneros

Being cold blooded, it would have been better to stumble on this beast in the early morning, rather than in the heat of the day. But even in the heat, its lizard like gait would have made it a slow mover. We can only assume this beast’s prey was even slower.
The discovery of the fossil links to other mammal like reptiles or dinocephalian therapsid that were found in South Africa, China and Russia.

To find out more, particularly the involvement of Google Earth and a bunch of South African scientists, read my article in The Star newspaper.

About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
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