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Torvosaurus (Wikimedia Commons)


Torvosaurus (Greek for "savage lizard"); pronounced TORE-vo-SORE-us


Plains of North America and western Europe

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150-145 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 35 feet long and 1-2 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; short arms with long claws


About Torvosaurus:

As is the case with many other large theropods, it isn't yet widely accepted that Torvosaurus deserves its own genus: some paleontologists think this may actually have been a species of Allosaurus or some other existing genus of carnivorous dinosaur. Whatever the case, Torvosaurus was certainly one of the biggest meat-eaters of the late Jurassic period, slightly outweighing the more well-known Allosaurus (if it wasn't actually an Allosaurus itself, of course). Like all the predators of this time, Torvosaurus probably feasted on the babies and juveniles of gigantic sauropods and smaller ornithopods. (By the way, this dinosaur shouldn't be confused with the similar-sounding, and comparably sized, Tarbosaurus, an Asian tyrannosaur that lived tens of millions of years later.)

Recently, paleontologists discovered a new species of Torvosaurus, T. gurneyi, which at over 30 feet from head to tail and more than a ton is the largest identified carnivorous dinosaur of late Jurassic Europe. T. gurneyi wasn't quite as big as its North American equivalent, T. tanneri, but it was clearly the apex predator of the Iberian peninsula. (By the way, the species name gurneyi honors James Gurney, the author and illustrator of the book series Dinotopia.)


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