Mega-dinosaur discovered

Largest land predator to roam Europe

Mar 6, 2014
Outside Magazine

An artist's rendering comparing Torvosaurus to humans.    Scott Hartman/Carol Abraczinskas

Kids have a new dinosaur to fantasize about—and it might be the largest land predator that ever roamed Europe.

Scientists discovered the species, Torvosaurus gurneyi, in Portugal's Lourinhã Formation, an archaeological site north of Lisbon known for its diverse collection of dinosaur fossils. According to a report in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists first thought the dinosaur was a close cousin, Torvosaurus tanneri, which archaeologists discovered in North America's massive fossil site, Montana's Morrison Formation.

The two species share many traits. Dinosaurs in the Torvosaurus family could reach 10 meters long and weigh up to five tons. Their 10-centimeter-long blade-shaped teeth suggest they hunted other large dinosaurs and likely resided at the top of the food chain. The creatures also may have been covered with protofeathers.

But T. tanneri fossils typically have 11 or more teeth; T. gurneyi has fewer than that. As a result, the two species have differently structured mouth bones.

Now the important question: Who would've won in a battle royale between T. gurneyi and T. rex? For one, scientists estimate that T. rex had about two tons on T. gurneyi. Although T. gurneyi may have been the largest carnivorous dinosaur to roam the earth when it lived during the late Jurassic Period, about 150 million years ago, dinosaurs got much bigger before their extinction. The Tyrannosaurus, which lived about 85 million years after the Torvosaurus, associated with much larger beasts.

So this showdown might not be historically plausible, but that's okay—we don't have to tell the kids.

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