New species of dinosaur discovered in Europe

Artist's impression of a Torvosaurus gurney.
Artist's impression of a Torvosaurus gurney. Credit: Sergey Krasovskiy/PA Wire

Fossilised remains of what scientists believe is the largest land dinosaur ever to have roamed Europe have been found in Portugal.

The dinosaur, a new species named Torvosaurus gurneyi, was up to 10 metres (33 feet) long and weighed between four and five tonnes.

Its head measured 1.15 metres (3.75 feet) from front to back and was filled with blade-shaped teeth up to 10 centimetres (4 inches) long, suggesting it may have been near the top of the food chain and eaten other large dinosaurs.

Cast of a Torvosaurus gurneyi's skull.
Cast of a Torvosaurus gurneyi's skull. Credit: Octavio Mateus/PA Wire

Scientists found the bones north of Portugal's capital, Lisbon, and originally thought they belonged to a species from North America, Torvosaurus tanneri.

But comparisons of the shin bone, upper jawbone, teeth, and partial tail vertebrae suggested it was a new species, making it one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period found in this area, living around 150 million years ago.

The new dinosaur is the second species of Torvosaurus to be named, and scientists believe recently-discovered embryos from Portugal also belong to it.

The fossilised remains discovered shows blade shape teeth up to 10 centimetres long.
The fossilised remains discovered shows blade shape teeth up to 10 centimetres long. Credit: Aart Walens/PA Wire

The number of teeth, as well as the size and shape of the mouth, are though to differentiate the European and the American Torvosaurus.

Report co-author Christophe Hendrickx said:

This is not the largest predatory dinosaur we know. Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus from the Cretaceous were bigger animals.

With a skull of 115 centimetres, Torvosaurus gurneyi was however 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 centimetres.

The findings were published in the online journal Public Library Of Science ONE.