A group of paleontologists from Portugal and Spain has located fossil fragments from a new genus and species of carcharodontosaurian dinosaur.
An artist’s impression of Lusovenator santosi. Image credit: Carlos de Miguel Chaves.
The new dinosaur, scientifically named Lusovenator santosi, lived in what is now Portugal amongst 153 and 145 million years ago (Jurassic period).
The ancient predator was about three.five m (11.five feet) lengthy and 1 m tall (three.three feet), and walked on two hind limbs.
It belongs to Carcharodontosauria, a massive group of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods in the clade Allosauria.
“Lusovenator santosi as an early branching carcharodontosaurian allosauroid,” stated group leader Dr. Elisabete Malafaia from the Universidade de Lisboa and the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia and her colleagues.
“It represents the oldest member of Carcharodontosauria defined in the Upper Jurassic of the ancient supercontinent Laurasia and extends the record of this group, which was already represented in the Lower Cretaceous of Europe.”
Selected components of Lusovenator santosi and other carcharodontosaurs displaying some of the functions that clearly nest the new species inside Carcharodontosauria: (A) Lusovenator santosi, ideal ilium in medial view (B) probable carcharodontosaur from Tendaguru, ideal ilium in medial view (C, D) Lusovenator santosi, ideal 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, doi: 10.1080/02724634.2020.1768106.
The paleontologists described Lusovenator santosi from two specimens located in Portugal’s Lusitanian Basin.
One of the specimens is a 153-million-year-old partial skeleton of a juvenile person from Praia de Valmitão, the locality of Ribamar and municipality of Lourinhã.
The second specimen is eight million years younger, and belongs to a massive-sized person of Lusovenator santosi. It was collected at Praia de Cambelas, in the locality of São Pedro da Cadeira and municipality of Torres Vedras.
“Despite the great similarity in the theropod faunal composition, the recognition of a carcharodontosaurian allosauroid taxon provides a component of the Upper Jurassic Lusitanian Basin distinct from its contemporaneous Morrison Formation in North America,” the researchers stated.
“The development of a terrestrial dispersal route connecting these landmasses after the late Tithonian (145 million years ago) could explain the absence of Carcharodontosauria in the diverse theropod faunas of the Morrison Formation and, additionally, their presence during the Early and Late Cretaceous of North America.”
“The new carcharodontosaurian theropod provides the first evidence for sympatry among allosauroid theropods in the Late Jurassic of Europe,” they stated.
“Additionally, the discovery of Lusovenator santosi sheds light on a poorly known period of carcharodontosaurian history and adds important data to the knowledge of the early evolution of these allosauroids.”
A paper on the discovery was published this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Elisabete Malafaia et al. A new carcharodontosaurian theropod from the Lusitanian Basin: proof of allosauroid sympatry in the European Late Jurassic. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, published on the net July 10, 2020 doi: 10.1080/02724634.2020.1768106