Some 150 million years ago, dinosaurs that were 10 metres long and weighed 405 tonnes ruled the Iberian Peninsula – home to modern-day Spain, Portugal, Andorra and part of France.
This new dinosaur species may be the largest land predator discovered in Europe.
Scientists discovered bones belonging to this dinosaur to the north of Portugal’s capital Lisbon.
They were originally believed to be Torvosaurus tanneri, a dinosaur species from North America.
Closer comparison of the shin bone, upper jaw bone, teeth and partial tail vertebrae suggested that it might warrant a new species name, Torvosaurus gurneyi.
T. gurneyi had blade-shaped teeth up to 10 cm long which indicates it may have been at the top of the food chain in the Iberian Peninsula, the scientists said.
“With a skull of 115 cm, Torvosaurus gurneyi was 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,” said Christophe Hendrickx from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon.
Recently reported dinosaur embryos from Portugal are also ascribed to the new species of Torvosaurus.
The research findings appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.
Hendrickx C, Mateus O (2014) Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp., the Largest Terrestrial Predator from Europe, and a Proposed Terminology of the Maxilla Anatomy in Nonavian Theropods. PLoS ONE 9(3): e88905. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088905