Meet The Fangy Whatcheeria: The Ancient Super Predator That Lived In The American Midwest

Modern humans have a fascination with many different types of ancient things. Arguably one of the most popular aspects of the past are the numerous prehistoric creatures that roamed the Earth that are extinct today. Generally we picture dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex (via Smithsonian) or Velociraptor (via Britannica), but there were many other unusual and intriguing animals that walked the planet at the same time.

One such creature that is not nearly as well known as its other dinosaur counterparts is known as the Fangy Whatcheeria. According to LiveScience, this massive animal existed over 300 million years ago and stalked the lakes of what is now midwestern America. It is described as the "T-rex of its time," and would have been the most dominant predator in its habitat. Around 350 Whatcheeria specimens have been unearthed and are housed at the Field Museum in Chicago (per Field Museum). Recent discoveries have been made that provide more insight into this impressive denizen of prehistory.

One enormous reptile

The Fangy Whatcheeria, in short, was one big creature. Some specimens are believed to have grown up to 6.5 feet long, and is said to resemble a "toothy, enormous salamander" (per LiveScience). It is also classified as a tetrapod due to it being a four-legged vertebrate. This carnivorous lizard would have been the most dominant predator in its habitat, with "large ripping teeth" (per USA Today).

According to USA Today, the Fangy Whatcheeria was classified as a separate species in 1995. The first fossils of this enormous lizard were discovered in a limestone quarry outside of the town of What Cheer, Iowa. The creature got its name, Whatcheeria, from the town as well. Since their original discovery there have been an astounding number of fossilized remains found. This has resulted in an extensive collection being put together that scientists and researchers have been able to study for the last 25 years.

It adapted to become an apex predator

Recent studies of the Fangy Whatcheeria have revealed some fascinating things about this prehistoric beast. According to the Independent, the Whatcheeria had huge sharp teeth and incredibly strong jaws that could potentially snap its prey in half. Additionally it is believed to be one of the first creatures to hunt on land, making it one of the most predominant hunters of the time. It has been compared to "a cross between a crocodile and a salamander" (per Reuters).

The large size of the Whatcheeria is one of its most obvious advantages as a predator. When examining the skeletons of these creatures, scientists discovered something unusual. By examining the bones, it has been revealed that the Whatcheeria achieved its unusually large size by "front loading its growth during its youth" (per Independent). Modern-day reptiles develop and grow in size slowly over time, but the Whatcheeria was different. It grew quickly while it was young, before plateauing. The Fangy Whatcheeria became an apex predator by adapting this way to its environment.