Paris: Palaeontologists in Spain have discovered the remains of a strange dinosaur with a hump that they believe is the forerunner of flesh-eating leviathans which once ruled the planet.
The fossil was uncovered in the Las Hoyas formation in central Spain`s Cuenca province, a treasure trove of finds that date to the Lower Cretaceous period of between 120 and
150 million years ago.
The nearly-complete skeleton is as exquisite as the
dinosaur is "bizarre," Fernando Escaso of the Autonomous
University of Madrid, told reporters.
"This dinosaur is very remarkable," Ecaso said.
"It is a unique specimen. It is the most complete
dinosaur ever found in the Iberian peninsula and is a new
species of theropod," a carnivore that moved on two rear
Six metres long from snout to tailtip, the dinosaur
is the earliest member ever found of a branch of
Carcharodontosauria, the largest predatory dinos that ever
lived and which until now were thought to be confined to
The lineage expanded hugely over the aeons, both in
size and number of species.
Its numbers include Giganotosaurus, estimated up to
14.5m long, and Carcharodontosaurus, up to 13 metres long, and
each weighing some seven or eight tonnes.
The new find has jaws and small, clawed forelimbs
that bear a resemblance to the Tyrannosaurus rex which belongs
to a different dinosaur family.
But all similarities end with the spine, which is
astonishingly curved and has a small hump, Ecaso said.
"It is the first time we have ever seen a structure
like this on the spine of a dinosaur, although it is common on
some animals today, such as cows," Escaso said.