Carcharodontosaurian Dinosaur Discovered in Portugal

A new genus and species of dinosaur has been discovered in Portugal!

2 specimens of a carcharodontosaurian allosauroid named Lusovenator santosi, meaning “Santosi’s Portuguese Hunter”, were discovered in the district of Lisbon. A fragmentary skeleton of a roughly 153 million year old juvenile specimen was found at Praia de Valmitão, a beach in the municipality of Lourinhã. The other specimen, an adult dating back to approximately 145 million years ago, was found at São Pedro da Cadeira, a coastal location in the municipality of Torres Vedras. The discovery of Lusovenator is particularly enlightening when considering how much we can learn from it in terms of carcharodontosaurian evolution. This occurrence remains quite unique as it is our first insight into the earlier stages of carcharodontosaurian evolution.

An accurate reconstruction of Lusovenator. Artist Credit: Gabriel Ugueto

Lusovenator would have measured a menacing 11 and a half feet long, while maintaining a height of around 3 feet off the ground. This animal would have lived in one of the Jurassic’s most iconic habitats: The Lourinhã Formation. This prehistoric environment would have consisted of dense conifer forests, sprawling floodplains, and would have been dominated by a variety of ferns. Lusovenator shared its habitat with a variety of ancient mammals as well as a vast array of other dinosaurs. Sharing this habitat were a large variety of other allosauroids, including the famous Allosaurus itself, as well as ceratosaurids, which included the famous Ceratosaurus. megalosaurid theropods, diplodocid and titanosaurid sauropods, a variety of stegosaurids (including Stegosaurus), and ornithopods (such as Camptosaurus and Dryosaurus) also lived in the vibrant Jurassic forests and plains of the Lourinhã Formation.

The discovery of Lusovenator is an exciting and significant addition to the menagerie of animals that flourished here 150 million years ago.

Specifics of image: (A) Lusovenator santosi, right ilium in medial view; (B) possible carcharodontosaur from Tendaguru, right ilium in medial view; (C, D) Lusovenator santosi, right ischium in (C) proximal and (D) lateral views; (E, F) Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, left ischium in (E) proximal and (F) lateral views; (G, H) Lusovenator santosi, middle caudal vertebrae in (G) lateral and (H) dorsal views (I, J) Veteropristisaurus milneri, middle caudal vertebrae in (I) lateral and (J) dorsal views. Abbreviations: acdl – anterior centrodiapophyseal lamina, alr – anterior lateral ridge, ilc – iliac peduncle, pamr – preacetabular medial ridge, polr – posterior lateral ridge, sprl – spinoprezygapophyseal lamina. Scale bars – 100 mm (A-F) and 50 mm (G-J). Image credit: Malafaia et al.

 

  • Elisabete Malafaia et al. A new carcharodontosaurian theropod from the Lusitanian Basin: evidence of allosauroid sympatry in the European Late Jurassic. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, published online July 10, 2020; doi: 10.1080/02724634.2020.1768106

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