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The “Hunter of Lusitania”: Discover the new species of carnivorous dinosaur found in Portugal

A group of Portuguese and Spanish paleontologists discovered a new species of carnivorous dinosaur terpode from fossils found in the cliffs of Torres Vedras and Lourinh. Scientists indicate that the Lusovenator santosi inhabited the Lusitanian Basin, today in western Portugal, approximately 145 million years ago, demonstrating that the species was already present in the northern hemisphere 20 million years earlier than indicated by the known record.

The Lusovenator, or hunter of the Lusitania, belongs to the group of carcharodontossurios and its description was recently published in the scientific journalJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The species' specific name, santosi, a tribute to Jos Joaquim dos Santos, the paleontologist who for more than 30 years discovered a large number of deposits in the coastal strip of western Portugal, in collaboration with the research groups working in the region, and who was responsible for discovering the fossils of the new species.

In the first phase, the fossils were attributed to the carnivorous dinosaur Allosaurus thermostat, but a more detailed analysis of the material allowed paleontologists to identify a set of unique characteristics and establish the new genus and species.

In charge of the study was Elisabete Malafaia, a researcher at the Dom Luiz Institute (IDL), center of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Cincias ULisboa), with the collaboration of paleontologists linked to IDL, to the Evolutionary Biology Group of UNED, in Madrid, in Spain, Sociedade de Histria Natural, in Torres Vedras and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, in California, in the USA.

For the researcher who led the study, the discovery represents a significant element to understand the evolutionary history of the carcharodontossurios and highlights the role that Pennsula Ibrica had during the end of the Jursuit in the dispersion of several species, some of which are very relevant in ecosystems that are later developed in the Cretaceous period.

According to Cincias ULisboa, the new species identified in Portugal at roughly the same age as the oldest carcharodontossurium records found in Tanzania, in Africa, and presents itself as the first proof of the existence of the group of dinosaurs in the Upper Jursuit of the northern hemisphere.

The collection of fossil remains discovered by Jos Joaquim currently belongs to the Municipal Chamber of Torres Vedrase managed by the Society of Natural History of Torres Vedras. The abundance of vertebrate fauna in the Upper Jurisdiction of the Lusitanian Basin has also allowed the description of several new species of dinosaurs, including the saurpodeOceanotitan dantasie the little ornithodeEousdryosaurus nanohallucis, as well as the tortoise Hylaeochelys kappa.