Named By: Wiffen - 1980.
Synonyms: Mosasaurus flemingi, Rikisaurus tehoensis.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Squamata, Mosasauridae, Mosasaurinae.
Species: M. mangahouangae (type).
Size: 12 meters long, skull 78 centimetres long.
Known locations: New Zealand, North Island.
Time period: Late Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Partial skull, vertebrae, ribs and metacarpals (from the flippers).
appear to have been some of the most common marine reptiles around New
Zealand towards the end of the Cretaceous, and at up to twelve meters
long, Moanasaurus was towards the larger end of
the mosasaur size
scale. Given its large size it’s a safe bet that Moanasaurus
have been a predator of large prey that most probably consisted of
other marine reptiles. Aside from smaller mosasaurs, other marine
reptiles known from the waters of late Cretaceous New Zealand are
elasmosaurid plesiosaurs such as Mauisaurus
would have been quite easy prey for a large mosasaur like Moanasaurus
which could probably swim faster than them as well as using its large
jaws to inflict serious injuries to a plesiosaurs
neck and flippers.
Moanasaurus is a combination of the Māori word for sea (‘Moana’) and the Greek for lizard (‘sauros’). Other mosasaurs that are known from New Zealand include Taniwhasaurus, at least one species of which may have approached Moanasaurus in size, and Prognathodon which was a more specialised mosasaur that ate armoured prey.
- Moanasaurus, a new genus of marine reptile (Family Mosasauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of North Island, New Zealand. - New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics vol 23, 4 - J. Wiffen - 1980.