A newly identified dinosaur found in Portugal may be the largest predator in Europe during the late Jurassic period.
The new species, named Torvosaurus gurneyi, describes one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs from the Jurassic. With blade-shaped teeth measuring almost 4 inches long, a length of roughly 32 feet and weighing close to 5 tons – the T. gurneyi was at the top of the food chain in the Iberian Peninsula roughly 150 million years ago.
"This is not the largest predatory dinosaur we know. Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus from the Cretaceous were bigger animals," Christophe Hendrickx, study co-author from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã, said in a statement. "With a skull of 115 cm, Torvosaurus gurneyi was however one of the largest terrestrial carnivores at this epoch, and an active predator that hunted other large dinosaurs, as evidenced by blade shape teeth up to 10 cm."
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, describe how the fossilized remains were found in the Lourinhã formation in Portugal, along the Atlantic Ocean and 43 miles north of Lisbon. In Jurassic times, the plain was located closer to North America and housed a bunch of different dinosaurs including long-necked sauropods, spiny ankylosaurs and the longer-spined stegosaurs, Hendrickx told the Los Angeles Times.
At first, scientists believed they belonged to Torvosaurus tanneri, a dinosaur species from North America. Upon closer comparison of the shin bone, upper jawbone, teeth and partial tail vertebrae fossils, the remains most likely belong to a new dinosaur species. This is especially evident in the number of teeth – the T. gurneyi has fewer teeth than the Torvosaurus tanneri.
"Torvosaurus gurneyi was obviously a super predator feeding on large prey like herbivorous dinosaurs," Hendrickx said.
Torvosaurus gurneyi is the second species belonging to the Torvosaurus genus. Recently discovered embryos from Portugal are also believed to come from Torvosaurus gurneyi. Its name comes from a “paleo-artist,” James Gurney, who created “Dinotopia” – a fantasy series published in 1992.
“I discovered this book when I was a kid,” Hendrickx told NBC News. “I wanted to honor this artist.”
While the Torvosaurus gurneyi is not larger than the famous Tyrannosaurs Rex, it is older. Tyrannosaurus in North America, Carcharodontosaurus and Spinosaurus in North Africa and Giganotosaurus in Argentina lived during the Cretaceous Period, which followed the Jurassic Period, Reuters reports.
"This animal, Torvosaurus, was already a fossil for 80 million years before the T. rex ever walked the Earth," paleontologist Octávio Mateus, also of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã said.