Scientists believe they have discovered the largest carnivorous dinosaur ever to roam Europe during the Jurassic period, in the form of a 33-foot-long, five-ton “super predator” with blade-shaped four-inch long teeth.
Remains of the Torvosaurus gurneyi were discovered in the rock cliffs of Lourinha, in Portugal, by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003.
They were originally believed to be Torvosaurus tanneri, a dinosaur species from North America.
But closer comparison of the shin bone, upper jawbone, teeth, and partial tail vertebrae suggested that it may warrant the new species name Torvosaurus gurneyi, scientists involved in the discovery have reported.
Christophe Hendrickx, a palaeontologist at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinha in Portugal who has published findings on the discovery said: "It was indeed better not to cross the way of this large, carnivorous dinosaur.”
Mr Hendrickx said fossilised embryos probably belonging to this species were identified last year in Portugal.
Torvosaurus gurneyi could be the largest known meat-eating dinosaur from Europe and the biggest land predator of any kind ever found on the continent during the Jurassic period, he added.
However, he said bigger predators have appeared on Earth after the Jurassic period. "This is not the largest predatory dinosaur we know. Tyrannosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Giganotosaurus from the Cretaceous were bigger animals," he said.
"With a skull of 115 cm, 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 10cm," he added.
"This animal, Torvosaurus, was already a fossil for 80 million years before the T. rex ever walked the Earth," Octávio Mateus, co-author of the study said.
The scientists said this is the second species of the genus Torvosaurus. The other one, Torvosaurus tanneri, lived at the same time in North America. It was known from the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and was identified in 1979.
The genus name Torvosaurus means "savage lizard" and its species name gurneyi, honors James Gurney, the author and illustrator of the popular Dinotopia book series.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.