New species of dino was size of a school bus and had razor-sharp killer claws
A new species of dinosaur has been discovered that was the size of a school bus and sported razor-sharp fingers.
It’s five digits were similar to a Swiss Army Knife with a particularly deadly spike protruded from the end of its thumb, scientists have said.
The stiletto style weapon came in ‘handy’ when fighting off predators.It would also have been used to slice fruit.
The creature, named Portellsaurus sosbaynati, was a member of a specialist group of iguanodons called styracosternans.
It also had huge nostrils. A combination of good smell and long claws would have made it an excellent forager. A long, heavy tail was held high in the air for balance.
Portellsaurus roamed Spain around 130 million years ago. It was ten feet tall, weighed more than four tons and reached up to 26 feet in length.
The beast was identified from a jawbone dug up at a prehistoric animal graveyard in Portell in the region of Catalonia.
Interestingly, it is a cousin of herbivore dinosaurs whose remains have been found in modern-day China and Niger.
Lead author Dr Andres Santos-Cubedo, of Jaume I University, Valencia, said: ‘It was a large animal with a spiked thumb and enlarged nostrils. It ate a plant-based diet’
Portellsaurus – described in the journal PLOS ONE – sheds fresh light on the evolution of the ornithopods.
They started out as small, bipedal running grazers, and grew in size and numbers.
Eventually, they became one of the most successful groups of herbivores in the Cretaceous world – dominating the landscape of North America, Europe and Asia.
Dr Santos-Cubedo said: ‘Portellsaurus sosbaynati is the oldest known dinosaur species in the province of Castello – about 130 million years old.
‘It’s closely related to the Chinese dinosaur Bolong and the African dinosaur Ouranosaurus.’
Styracosterns were ‘bird hipped’ dinosaurs called ornithopods – a prehistoric equivalent of today’s cattle and deer.
Their horny beaks were used to crop vegetation which they then ground using molar-like cheek teeth.
They flourished from 230 to 66 million years ago – and were among the most successful animals to ever walk the planet.
Dr Santos-Cubedo said: ‘A new styracosternan ornithopod genus and species is described based on the right dentary of a single specimen from the Mirambell Formation at the locality of Portell.
‘It indicates the Iberian Peninsula was home to a highly diverse assemblage of medium-to-large bodied styracosternan hadrosauriforms during the Early Cretaceous.’
Different species of Iguanodons flourished in both Europe and North America. They were able to walk on both two legs or all four.