WASHINGTON - A new dinosaur species discovered in Portugal dominated the food chain 150 million years ago -- the Tyrannosaurus Rex of its time, researchers said Wednesday.
The new species is the largest land predator discovered in Europe and one of the largest worldwide of the Jurassic era, said authors Christophe Hendrickx and Octavio Mateus of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinha.
The Torvosaurus gurneyi, like T. Rex, was a bipedal carnivore with blade-like teeth more than 4 inches (10 centimetres) in length, they said in a report published in the US journal PLOS ONE.
"This was clearly a fierce predator," Mateus told AFP. "Wherever he arrived, he was the owner and master. No one could rival Torvosaurus during the late Jurassic. This is the equivalent of T. rex but 80 million years before."
The scientists estimate Torvosaurus gurneyi grew up to 33 feet (10 metres) long and weighed some 4 or 5 tons. Its skull measured nearly four-feet (115 centimetres) long, smaller than the T. Rex, but not by a huge margin.
The fossils found in Portugal closely resemble those of a North American dinosaur -- the Torvosaurus tanneri -- and indeed at first the scientists thought the two specimens must be from the same species.
But upon closer analysis of the bones, the researchers determined the species must have evolved separately from the two sides of the proto-Atlantic Ocean over a few million years.