New dinosaur unearthed: meet Europe's largest predator

Mar 6, 2014

Palaeontologists have uncovered the remains of a giant carnivorous predator that hunted other dinosaurs


SCIENTISTS have uncovered the remains of a giant carnivorous dinosaur – similar to the Tyrannosaurus Rex – that roamed continental Europe 150 million years ago.

Palaeontologists in Portugal discovered fossils that prove the existence of the giant reptile. It's remains were found at Praia da Vermelha near Lisbon, the BBC reports.

The creature, named Torvosaurus gurneyi, was ten metres in length from head to tail, weighed approximately four or five tonnes and fed on other dinosaurs, scientists believe. The results were published in the PLOS ONE online academic journal.

The newly found bones, dug from the side of a cliff, include a jaw bone and a razor-sharp tooth, which measures ten centimetres long. Palaeontologists have previously uncovered a range of bones believed to belong to the creature in the rich fossil beds around Portugal, but the discovery of the upper jaw means that the dinosaur could finally begin to be reconstructed.

The Torvosaurus is the largest land creature ever to have been found in Europe. Experts believe that it would have looked similar to the Tyrannosaur, with a bipedal stance, large head and short forearms.

Christophe Hencrickx, a palaeontologist at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa said: "We have a very well preserved tooth of more than ten centimetres in size. It definitely belongs to a carnivorous animal. Most likely a predator, and a predator that fed on large prey like herbivorous dinosaurs."

Torvosaurus remains dating from the same period have also been found in North America. Scientists believe that the two creatures would have shared a common ancestor before the North Atlantic breakup, when the former supercontinent Pangaea split and the Atlantic Ocean opened up.

"One-hundred-and-fifty million years ago, Portugal was already separated from North America and this meant the mechanism of speciation could occur," Hendrickx said. "This is why we have a new species of Torvosaurus in Europe."

The Torvosaurus is not the largest predator to have been found. The Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus were all larger, but didn't emerge until many millions of years later during the Cretaceous era and were not found in Europe.

The Torvosaurus is believed to have been the largest predator of the Jurassic period.

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