Published March 06, 2014
Scientists in Portugal have discovered a new species of dinosaur -- possibly the largest land predator of any kind ever found in Europe.
Paleontologists Christophe Hendrickx and Octávio Mateus of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã in Portugal say the 33-foot-long dinosaur called Torvosaurus gurneyi was the scourge of Jurassic Europe, Reuters reported.
"It was indeed better not to cross the way of this large, carnivorous dinosaur," Hendrickx said. "Torvosaurus gurneyi was obviously a super predator feeding on large prey like herbivorous dinosaurs."
Remains of the species were unearthed by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003 in rock cliffs near Lisbon, Hendrickx told Reuters. He said fossilized embryos possibly belonging to the same species were identified last year in Portugal.
The predator, which roamed Europe 150 million years ago, weighed four to five tons, had a nearly 4-foot-long skull, possessed powerful jaws lined with blade-shaped teeth four inches long, and may have been covered with an early type of feather, Hendrickx said.
The scientists said this is the second species of the genus Torvosaurus. The Torvosaurus tanneri, which lived at the same time in North America, was identified in 1979.
The newly-identified predator is not only is the largest known meat-eating dinosaur from Europe, but is the biggest land predator of any kind ever found on the continent, according to Reuters.
"This is not the largest predatory dinosaur we know. Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus from the Cretaceous were bigger animals," Hendrickx said in a news release, referring to predators that appeared on Earth after the Jurassic period.
Carnivorous dinosaurs of the Jurassic period were typically medium-sized, with an average length of about 7 to 16 feet. Larger ones like Torvosaurus gurneyi lived in the late Jurassic period, according to Reuters.
"This animal, Torvosaurus, was already a fossil for 80 million years before the (Tyrannosaurus rex) ever walked the Earth," Mateus said.