Lourinhanosaurus is a dinosaur that lived during the Jurassic, about 150 million years, in Lourinhã in Portugal. Its full name is Lourinhanosaurus antunesi
, being a species that does not exist anywhere else in the world except in Lourinhã. Its name honors Miguel Telles Antunes, one of the most prestigious European paleontologists.
The skeleton of Lourinhanosaurus was found in the 80s by the farmer Luís Mateus who donated it to the Museum of Lourinhã. In 1997, the researcher Octávio Mateus studied it in his thesis, discovering features that led to the conclusion that the skeleton belonged to a new species of dinosaur.
The complete skeleton of Lourinhanosaurus was never collected, but it is estimated that would measure 4.5 meters long and weigh 160 kg. The bone tissue suggests that this specimen was young and could still possibly reach the length of 9 meters.
The original skeleton is in the Museum of Lourinhã, but the replica has been displayed in Japan.
Although belonging to the group of carnivorous theropods, this dinosaur had a peculiarity typical of herbivores: gastroliths, or stomach stones, to help crush the food. Along with them were discovered four claws of a small dinosaur, its latest prey.
There were also Lourinhanosaurus’ eggs and embryos discovered, in one of the oldest and largest nests of dinosaur in the world, in Paimogo. The embryos, a very rare finding worldwide, allowed identifying the species. This nest was considered by Discovery magazine one of the 100 most important scientific discoveries of 1997.
More than 200 bones of embryos were identified, allowing not only to classify the species but also to answer several questions. More than 100 eggs found together might mean that the females laid all their eggs in one nest, as ostriches do today.
These dinosaurs could reach 8 meters (adult size) in less than 10 years, making them champions of rapid growth among vertebrates. The age of dinosaurs can be determined by rings of bone growth, as it is done for trees.