The world's oldest carnivorous dinosaur, known as Gnathovorax cabreirai, has been discovered in southern Brazil, according to a new study.
The "apex predator" lived 230 million years ago when South America was still part of the supercontinent Pangea, SWNS reports.
The fossils of G. cabreirai (which means "ravenous jaws") that were discovered are "complete and well-preserved," according to the study's abstract. They include teeth and claws that likely made the dinosaur a "killing machine."
Researchers were also able to use CT scans to reconstruct the dinosaurs' brain, demonstrating G. cabreirai likely had good eyesight.
"Employing such approach, the endocranial soft tissues were reconstructed, revealing aspects of the neuroanatomy never explored before for such group of dinosaurs, including the recognition of a well-developed FFL, possibly related to motor control of the eye and head, which in turn may be related to predatory habit," the authors wrote in the study.
G. cabreirai was likely 10 feet long and weighed nearly half a ton, significantly larger than the prey of its time. Other super predators, such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Allosaurus, lived tens of millions of years after, during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, said one of the study's co-authors, Rodrigo Muller, biologist at the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil.
Other dinosaurs that lived during the time of G. cabreirai were significantly smaller, with most barely surpassing 5 feet in length, making it an "apex predator," SWNS added.
"The oldest predatory dinosaurs - that lived during the Triassic around 230 million years before the present - are, however, still rare findings," said Muller in comments obtained by SWNS. "Gnathovorax cabreirai is represented by an almost complete skeleton excavated in southern Brazil."
The study has been published in the scientific journal PeerJ.