Remains of Europe's Biggest Dinosaur Predator Unearthed in Portugal

PHOTO: Torvosaurus gurneyi may have been the largest European predator in the late Jurassic.
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A recently discovered dinosaur species may have Europe crowning a new king of the carnivores. Scientists at Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal recently published a paper describing Torvosaurus gurneyi, the biggest predator to stomp around the continent 150 million years ago. The bones of the dinosaur were discovered in the Lourinha Formation in western Portugal.

Christophe Hendrickx, the main author of the paper, described the new dinosaur as similar in shape to the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, though with a few key differences. "The T. rex had tiny arms with two fingers, while the arms here are definitely larger and also had these huge claws," he told ABC News. "The teeth of the T. rex are more banana-shaped, while these are narrower, more blade-shaped."

As to the size of the dinosaur, Hendrickx estimates that it was 10 meters long and weighed 4 to 5 tons, based on the few bones he and his colleagues were able to recover. "One bone from the upper jaw is huge, about 60 centimeters in length," he said. "A lot of information can be extracted from a bone that size." His observations are published in the journal PLoS One.

A predator of that size comes as a surprise, given Europe's geography at the time. "Europe was an archipelago, a bunch of small islands," said Hendrickx. "Most of the dinosaurs that have been discovered in Europe have been small."

When choosing the name of the species, Hendrickx elected to name it after James Gurney, the illustrator behind the "Dinotopia" book series. "I wanted to honor the guy who was clever and excellent in all his work," he said.

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