In Portugal, a recently discovered fossil find of a huge dinosaur skull and other bones of Torvosaurus gurneyi, has caused scientists and the media to crown it the King of Carnivorous Dinosaurs in Europe. The 33-foot-long bad-ass bipedal bully weighed over 5,500 pounds and had a skull that was practically four feet long.
According to paleontologist Christophe Hendrickx of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinha in Portugal, its jaws were “lined with blade-shape teeth,” and it “may have been covered with a type of feather.”
Hendrickz called the beast, which thrived during the Jurassic Period, “a super predator,” and said that it must have fed “on large prey like herbivorous dinosaurs.” Torvosaurus lived around 80 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex made its thunderous debut upon the world’s stage.
An amateur paleontologist looking for fossils discovered the remains of Torvosaurus gurneyi in 2003 in rocky cliffs near Lisbon, Portugal, but it wasn’t until recently that the dinosaur was declared to be a new species and that scientists published their findings in the online journal PLOS One.
The area was, at the time when Torvosaurus roamed around Portugal, a river delta region thick with foliage and inhabited by many other types of dinosaurs, such as the flying dinosaurs known as pterosaurs, and herbivores like the long-necked Lusotitan. Also, primitive birds flew the skies there, and turtles and crocodiles called the region home.
One of the reason it too scientists so long to declare the fossil remains to be from a new species is that a relative of Torvosaurus gurneyi inhabited North America, and for a while, scientists thought that the fossil remains found in Portugal were of the same species, Torvosaurus tanneri, which lived at the same period of time in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
The first part of the dinosaur’s name, Torvosaurus, means “savage lizard.” The species name, gurneyi, was chosen to honor the author and illustrator of the book series “Dinotopia,” James Gurney. Hendrickx is a fan of the “Dinotopia” books, “where dinosaurs and humans live together.”
In a blog post, Gurney, who began the “Dinotopia” series 20 years ago, said that he was “thrilled and honored,” to have the dinosaur named after him.
When the scientists compared the bones of Torvosaurus gurneyi to the ones of Torvosaurus tanneri, They realized that they had discovered a new species.
One of the differences between the two related dinosaurs is that the upper jaw of the American version, Torvosaurus tanneri, has a minimum of 11 teeth. Torvosaurus gurneyi’s upper jaw contains fewer than 11 teeth.
While Torvosaurus gurneyi is not the biggest carnivorous dinosaur eve discovered — those honors go to the Cretaceous-era dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus — it is the largest one yet discovered in Europe.
Based on the remains of other dinosaurs that are closely related to Torvosaurus gurneyi, the carnivores may have had “proto feathers.” It was no chicken, though, overwhelming its prey by its massive size and brute force.
Written by: Douglas Cobb