How T. rex's dumpy little cousin terrorised Europe

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The Independent Online

While ancient North America was being terrorised by Tyrannosaurus rex and its ilk, Europe was ruled by a short, fat and dumpy kickboxing killer, scientists believe.

The mini-king of the beasts was little more than six feet long, a fraction of T. rex which grew to more than 40 feet with its skull alone reaching five feet, but Balaur bondoc was the biggest predator in Europe.

It was similar in size to a Velociraptor, the fast-running pack predators featured in Jurassic Park, but was shorter, squatter, slower and has been described as "an oversized turkey".

It was, however, much more robust and muscular than Velociraptor and was equipped with two huge claws on each hind foot with which it would disembowelled its prey. Its killing technique made it "more kickboxer than sprinter" and it is the first predator to have been found from the last 60 million years of the age of the dinosaurs in Europe. The discovery is reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Stephen Brusatte, of the American Museum of Natural History, said: "Compared to the Velociraptor, it's stockier and stronger. More of a kickboxer than a sprinter. The extra claw would have been used to slash prey."