Researchers have discovered the most complete fossil of a meat-eating dinosaur from Europe in Las Hoyas, Spain. Curiously, it is humpbacked. The study appears in the journal Nature.
Named Concavenator corcovatus, the dinosaur belongs to the theropod family. In most ways, the dinosaur is not unusual, and it shares many characteristics with other medium-size theropods
But the humplike structure on the 20-foot creature has previously never been seen in a dinosaur.
“We have no idea if this hump had flesh tissues; if so it could have been a fatlike deposit,” said Francisco Ortega, a biologist at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia and the study’s lead author. “Or if it was decoration, it was used as a display.”
The hump probably looked similar to that seen on some cows today, he said.
The fossil also suggests that the dinosaur had bony bumps on its limbs, possibly structures from which feathers protruded. The dinosaur lived during the Early Cretaceous period, about 130 million years ago. Earlier dinosaur fossils have shown evidence of feathers, and birds are now generally considered to be dinosaur descendants.
He and his colleagues uncovered the dinosaur in a 2003 dig, but the assembly and analysis took seven years. The complete fossil can be seen at the Museum of Science in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.