Approximately 130 million years ago, a large bus-sized dinosaur with extremely sharp claws called Spain its home. In fact, its claws were so razor-sharp they have been compared to a “Swiss Army knife”.
The dinosaur, which has been named Portellsaurus sosbaynati, is an entirely new species that was unearthed at the Mirambell Formation in Portell, Catalonia. It was originally discovered back in 1998 but it has only been recently analyzed. It belonged to a group of iguanodons called styracosternans. Iguanodons were herbivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Lower Cretaceous Period. They could grow as large as an African elephant and could run as fast as 14 mph (23 kmh). Interestingly, it could walk on two or four legs.
Researchers from Universitat Jaume, Universitat de València and Grup Guix, Vila-real, were able to identify this new species by analyzing its jawbone, specifically two very interesting features – it didn’t have a bulge along a portion of the bone and a deep cavity that have never been witnessed in other dinosaurs of that genus.
The Portellsaurus sosbaynati measured more than 26 feet in length (8 meters), 10 feet in height (3 meters), and weighed more than 4 tons (over 3,600 kilograms). A dangerous spike protruded from the end of its thumb in addition to its “razor-sharp fingers”. Its claws certainly would have helped it while protecting itself against predators, and they would have also been used to slice fruit as the dinosaur was an herbivore. It had large nostrils that would have allowed it to have a great sense of smell, and it had a heavy, long tail that would have been held in the air as a way to help the creature’s balance.
Dr. Andres Santos-Cubedo, who is an author of the study, described the significance of this dinosaur discovery, “Portellsaurus sosbaynati is the oldest known dinosaur species in the province of Castello - about 130 million years old,” adding, “It's closely related to the Chinese dinosaur Bolong and the African dinosaur Ouranosaurus.” Pictures of some of Portellsaurus sosbaynati’s bones as well as what it would have looked like 130 million years ago can be seen here.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One where it can be read in full.