The geologist, Friedrich Albat discovered fossilised remains in October 1998 as he prospected within a quarry near the city of Minden, Germany. Further excavation of the abandoned quarry continued into 2001 and resulted in the recovery of a fragmentary theropod skeleton, along with fossil wood and marine invertebrates. The remains discovered only include certain parts of the dinosaur’s skeleton. But fortunately they were embedded within marine sediment, which kept the bones very well preserved, allowing anatomical detail to be seen and distinguished. Due to the huge scale of the bones and the location they was discovered, the fossil was given the name of the ‘Minden Monster’.
Oliver Rauhut, a paleontologist in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at LMU, together with Tom Hübner and Klaus-Peter Lanser of the LWL Museum of Natural History in Münster conducted a phylogenetic analysis and looked into the detail found on the fossil. They soon discovered that the dinosaur belongs to an unknown genus and species. The newly named dinosaur, Wiehenvenator albati, dates back to around 163 million years ago in the mid-Jurassic period, and was between 8 – 10 meters in length, standing on its hind legs and had much smaller forelimbs, similar to a Tyrannosaurus rex.
W. albati belongs to the megalosaur group, from where other species have been found in other parts of Europe such as France and England. It is these megalosaurids that are the earliest large carnivorous dinosaurs that we know of. This is the first carnivorous dinosaur from this period to be unearthed in Germany, it is also the largest ever found in the country.
A new megalosaurid theropod dinosaur from the late Middle Jurassic (Callovian) of north-western Germany: Implications for theropod evolution and faunal turnover in the Jurassic. Palaeontologia Electronica 19.2.26A: 1-65.