Scientists in Portugal have identified what they think may have been the largest predator ever to roam across the European landmass.
Fossil bones from the dinosaur were pulled from a cliff at Praia da Vermelha just north of Lisbon.
Known as Torvosaurus gurneyi, this ferocious beast would have been some 10m in length and weighed perhaps 4-5 tonnes.
Its features are described in the latest edition of the Plos One journal.
It was a theropod – the kind of two-legged, meat-eating animal that everyone instantly recognises in something like Tyrannosaurus rex.
But T. gurneyi lived much earlier in time, in the late Jurassic – about 150 million years ago.
"We all know about T. rex, but Tyrannosaurus was a Cretaceous animal," explains co-author Prof Octavio Mateus from the New University of Lisbon.
"Our dinosaur was Jurassic. The difference in age is striking – it's 80 million years. So, when T. rex walked on Earth, Torvosaurus was already a fossil," he told BBC News.
Scientists have now unearthed a number of body parts belonging to Torvosaurus from Portugal's fossil-rich Lourinha rock formation. These specimens even include eggs and embryos.
But it is with this latest description of the dinosaur's upper-jaw that the researchers believe they can put the creature in its proper context.
They say the Portuguese animal is distinct from the Torvosaurus already known from North America.
That fossil "cousin", known as Torvosaurus tanneri, was found in rocks of similar age, from the so-called Morrison formation.
It means that both animals must have shared a common ancestor deeper in time, before the Atlantic Ocean was fully opened.
Written By: Jonathan Amos
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