Moanasaurus

Name: Moanasaurus ‭(‬Sea lizard‭)‬.
Phonetic: Mo-a-na-sore-us.
Named By: Wiffen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1980.
Synonyms: Mosasaurus flemingi,‭ ‬Rikisaurus tehoensis.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Squamata,‭ ‬Mosasauridae,‭ ‬Mosasaurinae.
Species: M.‭ ‬mangahouangae‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
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)‬.

       Mosasaurs 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 would 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 and Tuarangisaurus.‭ ‬These 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.

Further reading
- 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.





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