New Dino Ranks as Europe's Largest-Ever Predator

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A new dinosaur from Portugal is Europe's largest-ever terrestrial predator and was the biggest carnivorous dinosaur of the Jurassic Period, according to paleontologists who studied its remains.

A large carnivorous Torvosaurus preying on a Stegosaurus during the Late Jurassic Period in Western Europe (Portugal).

Credit: Getty Creative

The dinosaur, named Torvosaurus gurneyi, measured close to 33 feet long and weighed over 2,200 pounds, according to a paper in the latest PLoS ONE. The predator was at the top of Europe's terrestrial food chain roughly 150 million years ago.

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"The fauna of what is now Portugal was extremely diverse in the Late Jurassic," paleontologist Octavio Mateus of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "This new species of carnivorous dinosaur is adding a little more (to the) diversity of dinosaurs of Portugal.

He added that the dinosaur lived at a time "when the Atlantic was well formed and Europe was an archipelago."

Fossils for the dinosaur were found north of what is now Lisbon. The upper jaw retains eleven of the dinosaur's teeth, each of which measures about 4 inches long.

The new dinosaur is the second known kind of Torvosaurus and is the European equivalent of Torvosaurus tanneri from North America. Both species were discovered in rocks of the same geological age and lived in similar environments dominated by dinosaurs. Both might have been covered with proto-feathers, and both belonged to a two-legged dino group that gave rise to birds.

The Portuguese dinosaur was a distant cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex (and had more teeth than T. tanneri. T. rex still retains its "King of the Dinosaur Predators" title, though, as it was larger than both of the Torvosaurus beasts. (The most complete skeleton for a T. rex suggests it grew to about 40 feet long.)

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Paleontologist and co-author Christophe Hendrickx, also of Universidade Nova de Lisboa, said, of the new Portuguese dino, "This is not the largest predatory dinosaur we know. Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus from the Cretaceous were bigger animals."

He added that its skull was close to 4 feet long, and that the Portuguese dinosaur feasted on other dinosaurs, sinking its many blade sharp teeth into their bodies.

Hendrickx explained that the new dinosaur's name honors artist James Gurney, creator and illustrator of the Dinotopia book series.

"I always admired the reconstruction of this utopian world where dinosaurs and humans live together," Hendrickx said. "(Gurney) is also an excellent photographer and pedagogue."

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