Scientists find dinosaur that was scourge of Jurassic Europe

Wed Mar 5, 2014 5:46pm EST
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In Europe 150 million years ago, this dude was the biggest, baddest bully in town.

Two scientists in Portugal announced on Wednesday that they have identified the largest carnivorous dinosaur ever found in Europe, a 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) brute called Torvosaurus gurneyi that was the scourge of its domain in the Jurassic Period.

"It was indeed better not to cross the way of this large, carnivorous dinosaur," said paleontologist Christophe Hendrickx of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã in Portugal.

Torvosaurus gurneyi was an imposing beast. It was bipedal, weighed four to five tons, had a skull almost 4 feet long, boasted powerful jaws lined with blade-shaped teeth four inches long, and may have been covered with an early type of feather, Hendrickx said.

"Torvosaurus gurneyi was obviously a super predator feeding on large prey like herbivorous dinosaurs," Hendrickx said.

Remains of the new species were unearthed in Portugal by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003 in the rock cliffs of Lourinhã, a small town about 45 miles north of Lisbon, Hendrickx said. He said fossilized embryos probably belonging to this species were identified last year in Portugal.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

At the time that Torvosaurus prowled the landscape, the region was a lush river delta with abundant fresh water and vegetation. The area teemed with dinosaurs and flying reptiles known as pterosaurs, primitive birds, crocodiles, turtles and mouse-sized mammals, according to paleontologist Octávio Mateus, also of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã.   Continued...

A Torvosaurus gurneyi dinosaur is seen in an undated artist's rendering released March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Sergey Krasovskiy/Handout via Reuters