Biggest European carnivorous dinosaur discovery in Portugal


Torvosaurus tanneri in Madrid museum

From PLOS ONE:

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp., the Largest Terrestrial Predator from Europe, and a Proposed Terminology of the Maxilla Anatomy in Nonavian Theropods

Christophe Hendrickx, Octávio Mateus

Published: March 05, 2014

Abstract

The Lourinhã Formation (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of Central West Portugal is well known for its diversified dinosaur fauna similar to that of the Morrison Formation of North America; both areas share dinosaur taxa including the top predator Torvosaurus, reported in Portugal.

The material assigned to the Portuguese T. tanneri, consisting of a right maxilla and an incomplete caudal centrum, was briefly described in the literature and a thorough description of these bones is here given for the first time. A comparison with material referred to Torvosaurus tanneri allows us to highlight some important differences justifying the creation of a distinct Eastern species.

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp. displays two autapomorphies among Megalosauroidea, a maxilla possessing fewer than eleven teeth and an interdental wall nearly coincidental with the lateral wall of the maxillary body. In addition, it differs from T. tanneri by a reduced number of maxillary teeth, the absence of interdental plates terminating ventrally by broad V-shaped points and falling short relative to the lateral maxillary wall, and the absence of a protuberant ridge on the anterior part of the medial shelf, posterior to the anteromedial process.

T. gurneyi is the largest theropod from the Lourinhã Formation of Portugal and the largest land predator discovered in Europe hitherto. This taxon supports the mechanism of vicariance that occurred in the Iberian Meseta during the Late Jurassic when the proto-Atlantic was already well formed. A fragment of maxilla from the Lourinhã Formation referred to Torvosaurus sp. is ascribed to this new species, and several other bones, including a femur, a tibia and embryonic material all from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian of Portugal, are tentatively assigned to T. gurneyi. A standard terminology and notation of the theropod maxilla is also proposed and a record of the Torvosaurus material from Portugal is given.

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Rare moth discovery in the Netherlands


This video from Portugal is about a sword-grass moth caterpillar.

Warden Luc Knijnsberg reports that this February, a rare moth was discovered in the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat near Bergen village in the Netherlands.

It was a sword-grass moth.

Wardens had smeared syrup on English oak trees to attract moths. If the night is not too cold, then moths will come to feed on the syrup. This February, one of the moths at the syrup turned out to be a sword-grass moth. A very rare species. It had been seen for the last time in the Netherlands in 2001; in Drenthe province, much further east.

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New orchid species discoveries on Azores volcano


This shows details of the flowers of Hochstetter's Butterfly-orchid, a newly recognized and exceptionally rare orchid recently discovered on the Azorean island of São Jorge. Credit: Richard Bateman

From LiveScience:

New Orchid Species Found on ‘Lost World’ Volcano in the Azores

By Douglas Main, Staff Writer

December 10, 2013 07:32am ET

For years, there was only one formally recognized species of orchid on the Azores, a cluster of volcanic islands west of Portugal, though some claimed there were two species. However, a recent, three-year study to describe these Azorean flowers found that three species of orchids exist on the islands, including two that are newly recognized.

One of the new species was found atop a remote volcano and is arguably Europe’s rarest orchid, said Richard Bateman, a botanist at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London. Researchers were surprised to find the new species atop the volcano, which had “a really ‘Lost World’ feel to it,” he told LiveScience.

The orchids likely originate from a single species that arrived by seed millions of years ago. They soon developed smaller flowers, unlike their ancestors, which had large blooms. The most widespread orchid on the island, the short-spurred butterfly orchid (Platanthera pollostantha), is known for these small flowers, Bateman said. [Photos: The Orchids of Latin America]

Analysis of other orchids found on the islands soon turned up another species, known as the narrow-lipped butterfly orchid (Platanthera micrantha).

But then scientists happened upon an even rarer and more striking orchid, with large flowers, like those of the plants’ ancestors. “In a sense, evolution has reversed itself,” Bateman said. This species, now known as Platanthera azorica or Hochstetter’s butterfly orchid, was originally collected more than 170 years ago, but hadn’t been further studied or recognized as a unique species.

Mónica Moura, a researcher at the University of the Azores, happened upon the flower, and noticed it was different. “I immediately recognized the flowers as being exceptionally large for an Azorean butterfly orchid,” Moura said, according to a release describing the study.

The new species require urgent conservation; the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global environmental organization, currently lumps all of these into a single species, which is incorrect, Bateman said.

The two rare orchids are threatened by invasive species and habitat destruction, Bateman said. Much of the unique dwarf forests that once covered the Azores—and in which the rare orchids are found—have been destroyed by inefficient dairy farming and other development, Bateman added.

Like many other orchids, the two rare orchid species have symbiotic relationships with fungi that allow them to survive. Without a certain type of fungi, the seeds can’t germinate, Bateman said. It’s possible these rare species can only survive in the presence of a single fungal species, which helps them germinate and supplies them with nutrients as adult plants, he said. More widespread species can likely partner with a variety of fungi, he added.