Temporal range: Late Jurassic
|An artist's illustration of Torvosaurus gurneyi|
Galton & Jensen, 1979
| †Torvosaurus tanneri|
Galton & Jensen, 1979
Torvosaurus was a large megalosaurid theropod from the late Jurassic Lourinhã and Morrison Formations of 145 million years ago. It was one of the largest known Jurassic theropods, along with Saurophaganax, Edmarka, Megalosaurus, and a few others. It grew to be between 9 and 11 meters (27 to 33 feet) long, weighed between 2.5 and 4 tons, and it was one of the largest carnivores to inhabit the Earth up until the Late Jurassic.
In Portugal, it may have been the top predator. In Africa and North America there were some theropods that could challenge it such as Saurophaganax and Veterupristisaurus, but as far as we know they never inhabited Europe.
The fossil material refered to Torvosaurus includes partial post cranial remains and elements of the skull and the maxilla.
In 2013, a nest with fossilized embrious was found in Portugal. Paleontologists assigned them to Torvosaurus gurneyi. These are the oldest theropod eggs ever found in the world.
In 2000, fossils of some theropod were discovered in Portugal. Octávio Mateus and Miguel Antunes assigned these fossils as of Torvosaurus sp. In 2006, the fossils were assigned to the type species, Torvosaurus tanneri. Finally, in 2014, Mateus and Hendrickx recognized the Portuguese Torvosaurus as being a of a new species, different from the type species, nowadays only known from North America. The Portuguese Torvosaurus is now credited as belonging to Torvosaurus gurneyi, a species named in honour of James Gurney, who is best known for his work creating the "Dinotopia" series of illustrated books.
One could find odd the discovery of the same genus of dinosaur in what are now two separate continents. However, during the late Jurassic, the Atlantic Ocean was just starting to form and, consequently, animals (and, of course, dinosaurs) could walk between the continents, at certain times. In fact, Torvosaurus isn´t the only genus of dinosaur to be found in both continents: Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus and Stegosaurus are also found in Portugal. This is why researchers consider the Lourinhã Formation to be analogous to the more famous Morrison Formation.
PaleobiologyTorvosaurus was a huge theropod for its time, and probably fed on large sauropods like Diplodocus and Dinheirosaurus (now a species of Supersaurus) and stegosaurs like Stegosaurus and Miragaia. It probably also preyed on the smaller carnivores from time to time as well. It had long, muscular legs and mid-sized arms, good for gripping and holding onto prey. It also had a long, narrow skull, probably used to go in and repeatedly bite at larger herbivores.Torvosaurus grew larger in Europe than in North America,the Torvosaurus found in North America were of individuals that grew up to 9 meters long. The specimen found in Portugal was of an individual that exceded 11 meters (33 feet) in length. Unlike most other large theropods, Torvosaurus seemed to have thicker teeth, where others have thin, blade-like teeth, which may suggest it had a stronger bite force than most other theropods its size. Another large theropod called Edmarka is known to have stalked North America during the Jurassic, though there is speculation that Edmarka might actually be the same dinosaur as Torvosaurus, an idea that has increased in popularity in recent years.
In Popular CultureTorvosaurus was featured in a documentary called "Dinosaur Revolution", where it fought over territory with a smaller, younger Allosaurus with a broken jaw, until it tried to attack a young, injured Dinheirosaurus and is killed by its parent after fighting with the Allosaurus. Torvosaurus has also made an appearence in Dinosaur King.