Torvosaurus (/ˌtɔːrvoʊˈsɔːrəs/) is a genus of carnivorous megalosaurid theropod dinosaurs that lived approximately 153 to 148 million years ago during the Late Jurassic Period (Kimmeridgian to Tithonian) in what is now Colorado and Portugal. It contains two currently recognized species, Torvosaurus tanneri and Torvosaurus gurneyi.
In 1979 the type species Torvosaurus tanneri was named: it was a large, heavily built, bipedal carnivore, that could grow to a length of about 10 m (33 ft). T. tanneri was among the largest carnivores of its time, together with Epanterias and Saurophaganax (which could be both synonyms of Allosaurus). Specimens referred to Torvosaurus gurneyi were initially claimed to be up to twelve metres long, but later shown to be smaller. Based on bone morphology Torvosaurus is thought to have had short but very powerful arms.
|Mounted T. tanneri skeletal reconstruction, Museum of Ancient Life|
Galton & Jensen 1979
Galton & Jensen 1979
Torvosaurus was a very large predator, with an estimated maximum body length of 10 m (33 ft) and mass of 3.6–4.5 tonnes (4–5 short tons) for both T. tanneri and T. gurneyi, making Torvosaurus among the largest land carnivores of the Jurassic. Claims have been made indicating even larger sizes. The synonymous Edmarka rex was named thus because it was assumed to rival Tyrannosaurus rex in length. Likewise "Brontoraptor" was supposed to be a torvosaur of gigantic size. The T. gurneyi specimens from Portugal initially prompted larger size estimates to be made. In 2006 a lower end of a thighbone, specimen ML 632, was referred to Torvosaurus sp. and later to T. gurneyi. This specimen was initially stated to indicate a length of 11 m (36 ft). Applying the extrapolation method of J.F. Anderson, correlating mammal weights to their femur circumference, resulted in a weight of 1930 kilogrammes. However, revised estimates performed in 2014 suggested a slightly smaller total body size for this specimen, of about 10 m (33 ft). Among the differentiating features between T. gurneyi and T. tanneri are the number of teeth and size and shape of mouth. While the upper jaw of T. tanneri has more than 11 teeth, that of T. gurneyi has less.
Torvosaurus had an elongated, narrow snout, with a kink in its profile just above the large nostrils. The frontmost snout bone, the praemaxilla, bore three rather flat teeth oriented somewhat outwards with the front edge of the teeth crown overlapping the outer side of the rear edge of the preceding crown. The maxilla was tall and bore at least eleven rather long teeth. The antorbital fenestra was relatively short. The lacrimal bone had a distinctive lacrimal horn on top; its lower end was broad in side view. The eye socket was tall with a pointed lower end. The jugal was long and transversely thin. The lower front side of the quadrate bone was hollowed out by a tear-shaped depression, the contact surface with the quadratojugal. Both the neck vertebrae and the front dorsal vertebrae had relatively flexible ball-in-socket joints. The balls, on the front side of the vertebral centra, had a wide rim, a condition by Britt likened to a Derby hat. The tail base was stiffened in the vertical plane by high and in side view wide neural spines. The upper arm was robust; the lower arm robust but short. Whether the thumb claw was especially enlarged, is uncertain. In the pelvis, the ilium resembled that of Megalosaurus and had a tall, short, front blade and a longer pointed rear blade. The pelvis as a whole was massively built, with the bone skirts between the pubic bones and the ischia contacting each other and forming a vaulted closed underside.
Fossilized remains of Torvosaurus have been found in North America and Portugal. In 1971, Vivian Jones, of Delta, Colorado (USA), in the Calico Gulch Quarry in Moffat County, discovered a single gigantic thumb claw of a theropod. This was shown to James Alvin Jensen, a collector working for Brigham Young University. In an effort to discover comparable fossils, Vivian's husband Daniel Eddie Jones directed Jensen to the Dry Mesa Quarry, where abundant gigantic theropod bones, together with Supersaurus remains, proved present in rocks of the Morrison Formation. From 1972 onwards the site was excavated by Jensen and Kenneth Stadtman. The type species Torvosaurus tanneri was named and described in 1979 by Peter Malcolm Galton and Jensen. The genus name Torvosaurus derives from the Latin word torvus, meaning "savage", and the Greek word sauros (σαυρος), meaning "lizard". The specific name tanneri, is named after first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Nathan Eldon Tanner.
In 1985, Jensen could report a considerable amount of additional material, among it the first skull elements. The fossils from Colorado were further described by Brooks Britt in 1991. The holotype BYU 2002 originally consisted of upper arm bones (humeri) and lower arm bones (radii and ulnae). The paratypes included some back bones, hip bones, and hand bones. When the material described in 1985 is added, the main missing elements are the shoulder girdle and the thighbone. The original thumb claw, specimen BYUVP 2020, was only provisionally referred as it had been found in a site 195 kilometres away from the Dry Mesa Quarry. The holotype and paratypes represented at least three individuals: two adults and a juvenile. In 1991 Britt concluded that there was no proof that the front limbs of the holotype were associated and chose the left humerus as the lectotype. Several single bones and teeth found in other American sites have been referred to Torvosaurus.
In 1992, fossils of a large theropod found at Como Bluff in Wyoming, containing skull, shoulder girdle, pelvis and rib elements, were named by Robert T. Bakker et al. as the species Edmarka rex. Bakker et al were impressed with the size of Edmarka, noting that it "would rival T. rex in total length," and viewing this approximate size as "a natural ceiling for dinosaurian meat-eaters." This was often considered a junior synonym of Torvosaurus. The same site has rendered comparable remains for which the nomen nudum Brontoraptor has been used. Most researchers now regard both specimens as belonging to Torvosaurus tanneri.
In 2000, material from Portugal was referred to a Torvosaurus sp. by Octávio Mateus and Miguel Telles Antunes. In 2006 fossils from the Portuguese Lourinhã Formation were referred to Torvosaurus tanneri. In 2012, however, Matthew Carrano e.a. concluded that this material could not be more precisely determined than a Torvosaurus sp. In 2013 eggs and embryos were reported from Portugal, referred to Torvosaurus. The species from Portugal was named T. gurneyi in honor of James Gurney in 2014, the creator of the Dinotopia series of books. It is the largest theropod known from Europe. It was the morphological distinctiveness of the holotype maxilla ML1100 that led to the naming of the Portuguese species.
When first described in 1979 by Galton and Jensen, Torvosaurus was classified as a megalosaurid, which is the current consensus. It was later assigned to Carnosauria by Ralph Molnar et al. in 1990, and to a basal position in Spinosauroidea by Oliver Walter Mischa Rauhut in 2003 and to a very basal position in the Tetanurae by Thomas Holtz in 1994; all these assignments are not supported by present phylogenetic analysis. In 1985, Jensen assigned Torvosaurus a family of its own, the Torvosauridae. Despite support for this concept by Paul Sereno and Mateus, it seems redundant as Torvosaurus is closely related to, and perhaps the sister species of, the earlier Megalosaurus within a Megalosaurinae. However, Torvosauridae may be used as an alternative name for Megalosauridae if Megalosaurus is considered an indeterminable nomen dubium. Though a close relative of Megalosaurus, Torvosaurus is seemingly more advanced or apomorphic. Torvosaurus's larger clade, the Megalosauridae, is most commonly held as a basal branch of the Tetanurae, and considered less derived than carnosaurs or coelurosaurs, and likely related to the spinosaurids.
According to Carrano et al. (2012), Torvosaurus can be distinguished based on the following characteristics:
The careful study of fossil dinosaur embryos provides researchers with information about the transformation of the embryo over time, the different developmental pathways present in dinosaur lineages, dinosaur reproductive behavior, and dinosaur parental care.
In 2013, Araújo et al. announced the discovery of specimen ML1188, a clutch of crushed dinosaur eggs and embryonic material attributed to Torvosaurus. This discovery further supports the hypothesis that large theropod dinosaurs were oviparous, meaning that they laid eggs and hence that embryonic development occurred outside the body of female dinosaurs. This discovery was made in 2005 by the Dutch amateur fossil-hunter Aart Walen at the Lourinhã Formation in Western Portugal, in fluvial overbank sediments that are considered to be from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic Period, approximately 152 to 145 million years ago. This discovery is significant paleontologically for a number of reasons: (a) these are the most primitive dinosaur embryos known; (b) these are the only basal theropod embryos known; (c) fossilized eggs and embryos are rarely found together; (d) it represents the first evidence of a one-layered eggshell for theropod dinosaurs; and (e) it allows researchers to link a new eggshell morphology to the osteology of a particular group of theropod dinosaurs. The specimen is housed at the Museu da Lourinhã, in Portugal. As the eggs were abandoned due to unknown circumstances, it is not known if Torvosaurus provided parental care to its eggs and young or abandoned them shortly after laying.
The type specimen of Torvosaurus tanneri BYU 2002 was recovered in the Dry Mesa Quarry of the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation, in Montrose County, Colorado. The specimen was collected by James A. Jensen and Kenneth Stadtman in 1972 in medium-grained, coarse sandstone that was deposited during the Tithonian and Kimmeridgian stages of the Jurassic period, approximately 153 to 148 million years ago. This specimen is housed in the collection of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Studies suggest that the paleoenvironment of this section of the Morrison Formation included rivers that flowed from the west into a basin that contained a giant, saline alkaline lake and there were extensive wetlands in the vicinity. The Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry of western Colorado yields one of the most diverse Upper Jurassic vertebrate assemblages in the world. The Dry Mesa Quarry has produced the remains of the sauropods Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Barosaurus, Supersaurus, Dystylosaurus and Camarasaurus, the iguanodonts Camptosaurus and Dryosaurus, and the theropods Allosaurus, Tanycolagreus, Koparion, Stokesosaurus, Ceratosaurus and Ornitholestes, as well as Othnielosaurus, Gargoyleosaurus and Stegosaurus.
The flora of the period has been revealed by fossils of green algae, fungi, mosses, horsetails, ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and several families of conifers. Animal fossils discovered include bivalves, snails, ray-finned fishes, frogs, salamanders, amphibians, turtles, sphenodonts, lizards, terrestrial (like Hoplosuchus) and aquatic crocodylomorphans, cotylosaurs, several species of pterosaurs like Harpactognathus, and early mammals, multituberculates, symmetrodonts, and triconodonts.
The Lourinhã Formation is also Kimmeridgian-Tithonian in age. The environment is coastal, and therefore has a strong marine influence. Its flora and fauna are very similar to the Morrison. Torvosaurus appears to be the top predator here. It lived alongside European species of Allosaurus (A. europaeus), Ceratosaurus, Stegosaurus and presumably Camptosaurus. Theropod Lourinhanosaurus also stalked the area. Lusotitan was the largest sauropod in the region, while the diplodocids Dinheirosaurus and Lourinhasaurus were also present. Dacentrurus and Miragaia were both stegosaurs, while Dracopelta was a ankylosaurian. Draconyx was an iguanodontid related to Camptosaurus. Due to the marine nature of the Lourinhã Formation, sharks, plesiochelyid turtles, and teleosaurid crocodyliforms are also present.
Torvosaurus coexisted with other large theropods such as Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Saurophaganax in the United States, and Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Lourinhanosaurus in Portugal. The three appear to have had different ecological niches, based on anatomy and the location of fossils. Torvosaurus and Ceratosaurus may have preferred to be active around waterways, and had lower, more sinuous, bodies that would have given them an advantage in forest and underbrush terrains, whereas Allosaurus had shorter bodies, longer legs, were faster but less maneuverable, and seem to have preferred dry floodplains. Allosaurus was itself a potential food item to other carnivores, as illustrated by an Allosaurus pubic foot marked by the teeth of another theropod, probably Ceratosaurus or Torvosaurus. The location of the bone in the body (along the bottom margin of the torso and partially shielded by the legs), and the fact that it was among the most massive in the skeleton, indicates that the Allosaurus was being scavenged.
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is a museum complex operating out of the Cincinnati Union Terminal in the Queensgate neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. It houses museums, theaters, a library, and a symphonic pipe organ, as well as special traveling exhibitions.Dendroolithus
Dendroolithus is an oogenus of Dendroolithid dinosaur egg native to China and Mongolia. They can be up to 162 mm long and 130 mm wide. These eggs may have been laid by a Therizinosaur, Sauropod, or Ornithopod. The oospecies "D." shangtangensis was originally classified as Dendroolithus, however, it has since been moved to its own distinct oogenus, Similifaveoloolithus.. This oogenus is related with embryos of the theropod TorvosaurusDry Mesa Quarry
The Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry is situated in southwestern Colorado, United States, near the town of Delta. Its geology forms a part of the Morrison Formation and has famously yielded a great diversity of animal remains from the Jurassic Period, among them Ceratosaurus, Supersaurus, and Torvosaurus. The quarry is found within the Uncompahgre National Forest.Embasaurus
Embasaurus (Emba lizard) is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period. Fossils have been found in Kazakhstan in central Asia. As it is known only from two fragmentary vertebrae, Embasaurus is considered by some to be a possible nomen dubium. It was named after the Emba River, and it is believed to have lived during the Berriasian stage, around 140 million years ago. According to the Theropod Database, a personal website designed by Mickey Mortimer, further research may suggest that Embasaurus may be a basal tyrannosauroid. George Olshevsky, however, considered Embasaurus to be a megalosaurid, closely related to Magnosaurus, Megalosaurus, and Torvosaurus.The type species, Embasaurus minax, was described by the Soviet paleontologist Anatoly Riabinin in 1931.Garden Park, Colorado
Garden Park is a paleontological site in Fremont County, Colorado, known for its Jurassic dinosaurs and the role the specimens played in the infamous Bone Wars of the late 19th century. Located 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Cañon City, the name originates from the area providing vegetables to the miners at nearby Cripple Creek in the 19th century. Garden Park proper is a triangular valley surrounded by cliffs on the southeast and southwest and by mountains to the north; however, the name is also refers to the dinosaur sites on top and along the cliffs. The dinosaur sites now form the Garden Park Paleontological Resource Area, which is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.James A. Jensen
James Alvin Jensen (August 2, 1918 – December 14, 1998), was an American paleontologist. His extensive collecting program at Brigham Young University in the Utah-Colorado region which spanned 23 years was comparable in terms of the number of specimens collected to that of Barnum Brown during the early 20th century. He was given the name "Dinosaur Jim" during the media coverage of his activities. Perhaps his most significant contribution to paleontology was to replace the 19th-century web of external metal struts, straps and posts that had been used to mount dinosaurs with a system of supports which were placed inside of bones, which produced free-standing skeletons with few or no obvious supports.
He is credited with naming and describing Supersaurus (1985) and Torvosaurus (with Peter Galton, 1979).James Gurney
James Gurney (born June 14, 1958) is an artist and author best known for his illustrated book series Dinotopia, which is presented in the form of a 19th-century explorer’s journal from an island utopia cohabited by humans and dinosaurs. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York, in the Hudson Valley of New York State. Gurney is also a confirmed paleoartist who depicts and restores in his paintings extinct fauna such as both avian and non-avian dinosaurs.Jurassic National Monument
Jurassic National Monument, at the site of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, well known for containing the densest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur fossils ever found, is a paleontological site located near Cleveland, Utah, in the San Rafael Swell, a part of the geological layers known as the Morrison Formation.
Well over 15,000 bones have been excavated from this Jurassic excavation site and there are many thousands more awaiting excavation and study. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in October 1965. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed into law March 12, 2019, named it as a national monument.All of these bones, belonging to different species, are found disarticulated and indistinctly mixed together. It has been hypothesised that this strong concentration of mixed fossilised bones is due to a "predator trap", but any kind of definitive scientific consensus hasn't been reached yet and debates still continue to the present day.Kimmeridgian
In the geologic timescale, the Kimmeridgian is an age or stage in the Late or Upper Jurassic epoch or series. It spans the time between 157.3 ± 1.0 Ma and 152.1 ± 0.9 Ma (million years ago). The Kimmeridgian follows the Oxfordian and precedes the Tithonian.Kounov (Rychnov nad Kněžnou District)
Kounov is a small village and municipality in Rychnov nad Kněžnou District in the Hradec Králové Region of the Czech Republic.Late Jurassic
The Late Jurassic is the third epoch of the Jurassic period, and it spans the geologic time from 163.5 ± 1.0 to 145.0 ± 0.8 million years ago (Ma), which is preserved in Upper Jurassic strata.In European lithostratigraphy, the name "Malm" indicates rocks of Late Jurassic age. In the past, Malm was also used to indicate the unit of geological time, but this usage is now discouraged to make a clear distinction between lithostratigraphic and geochronologic/chronostratigraphic units.Lourinhanosaurus
Lourinhanosaurus (meaning "Lourinhã lizard") was a genus of carnivorous theropod dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic Period (Kimmeridgian/Tithonian) in Portugal. It is one of many large predators discovered at the Lourinhã Formation and probably competed with coeval Torvosaurus gurneyi, Allosaurus europaeus, and Ceratosaurus.Lourinhã Formation
The Lourinhã Formation is a fossil rich geological formation in western Portugal, named for the municipality of Lourinhã. The formation is Late Jurassic in age (Kimmeridgian/Tithonian) and is notable for containing a fauna similar to that of the Morrison Formation in the United States and the Tendaguru beds in Tanzania. The stratigraphy of the formation and the basin in general is disputed, with the constituent member beds belonging to the formation varying between different authorsBesides the fossil bones, Lourinhã Formation is well known for the fossil tracks and fossilized dinosaur eggs.The Lourinhã Formation includes several lithostratigraphic units, such as Praia da Amoreira-Porto Novo Members and the Sobral Unit.Marshosaurus
Marshosaurus is a genus of medium-sized carnivorous theropod dinosaur, belonging to the Megalosauroidea, from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of Utah and possibly Colorado.Megalosauridae
Megalosauridae is a monophyletic family of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs within the order Megalosauroidea, closely related to the family Spinosauridae. Some members of this family include Megalosaurus, Torvosaurus, Eustreptospondylus, and Afrovenator. Appearing in the Middle Jurassic, megalosaurids were among the first major radiation of large theropod dinosaurs, although they became extinct by the end of the Jurassic period. They were a relatively primitive group of basal tetanurans containing two main subfamilies, Megalosaurinae and Afrovenatorinae, along with the basal genus Eustreptospondylus, an unresolved taxon which differs from both subfamilies.The defining megalosaurid is Megalosaurus bucklandii, first named and described in 1824 by William Buckland after multiple finds in Stonesfield, Oxfordshire, UK. Megalosaurus was the first formally described dinosaur and was the basis for the establishment of the clade Dinosauria. It is also one of the largest known Middle Jurassic carnivorous dinosaurs, with the best-preserved femur at 805 mm and a proposed body mass of around 943 kg. Megalosauridae is recognized as a mainly European group of dinosaurs, based on fossils found in France and the UK. However, recent discoveries in Niger have led some to consider the range of the family. Megalosaurids appeared right before the split of the supercontinent Pangaea into Gondwana and Laurasia. These large theropods therefore may have dominated both halves of the world during the Jurassic.The family Megalosauridae was first defined by Thomas Huxley in 1869, yet it has been contested throughout history due to its role as a ‘waste-basket’ for many partially described dinosaurs or unidentified remains. In the early years of paleontology, most large theropods were grouped together and up to 48 species were included in the clade Megalosauria, the basal clade of Megalosauridae. Over time, most of these taxa were placed in other clades and the parameters of Megalosauridae were narrowed significantly. However, some controversy remains over whether Megalosauridae should be considered its own distinct group, and dinosaurs in this family remain some of the most problematic taxa in all Dinosauria. Some paleontologists, such as Paul Sereno in 2005, have disregarded the group due to its shaky foundation and lack of clarified phylogeny. However, recent research by Carrano, Benson, and Sampson has systematically analyzed all basal tetanurans and determined that Megalosauridae should exist as its own family.Megalosauroidea
Megalosauroidea (meaning 'great/big lizard forms') is a superfamily (or clade) of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs that lived from the Middle Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous period. The group is defined as Megalosaurus bucklandii and all taxa sharing a more recent common ancestor with it than with Allosaurus fragilis or Passer domesticus. Members of the group include Spinosaurus, Megalosaurus, and Torvosaurus.Octávio Mateus
Octávio Mateus (born 1975) is a Portuguese dinosaur paleontologist and biologist Professor of Paleontology at the Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He graduated in Universidade de Évora and received his PhD at Universidade Nova de Lisboa in 2005. He collaborates with Museu da Lourinhã, known for their dinosaur collection.
A student of Miguel Telles Antunes, he is a specialist in dinosaurs, having studied Late Jurassic dinosaurs of Portugal.
He has named new dinosaur species such as Lourinhanosaurus antunesi (1998), Dinheirosaurus lourinhanensis, Tangvayosaurus hoffeti (1999), Draconyx loureiroi (2001), Lusotitan atalaiensis (2003), Europasaurus holgeri (2006), and Allosaurus europaeus (2006), Torvosaurus gurneyi Hendrickx & Mateus, 2014, and Galeamopus (2015).Since 1991 Octávio Mateus has organized dinosaur excavations in Portugal, as well as excavating in Laos (Asian Southeast) with the French team of the Paris Museum of Natural History, led by Prof. Philippe Taquet. He has recently worked in Angola, where he discovered the first Angolan dinosaur in the scope of a project in the area of vertebrate paleontology of Angola.
He collaborates with diverse international scientific institutions as the scientific council member of the German foundation Verein zur Förderung der niedersächsischen Paläontologie.
He also studied dinosaur tracks and eggs, phytosaurs, chelonians, and whales.
In 2012 he integrated an expedition to the Triassic of Greenland in Jameson Land.Unidade Bombarral
The Unidade Bombarral is a geological formation in Europe. It dates back to the Late Jurassic.Wiehenvenator
Wiehenvenator is a genus of predatory megalosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic (Callovian) of Germany.