Named By: Hector - 1874.
Synonyms: Lakumasurus, Tylosaurus capensis, Tylosaurus haumuriensis, Yezosaurus.
Classification: Chordata, Reptila, Squamata, Scleroglossa, Mosasauridae, Tylosaurinae.
Species: T. oweni (type), T. antarticus, T. capensis, T. mikasaensis.
Size: Often cited at being 6 meters long, the addition of Tylosaurus haumuriensis has raised the prospect that Taniwhasaurus may have grown up to 12 meters long.
Known locations: New Zealand - Conway Formation. Antarctica, James Ross Island - Santa Marta Formation. Japan.
Time period: Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Several specimens, usually of scattered skull and post cranial remains.
discovered in New Zealand in 1874, Taniwhasaurus
was named after
the Taniwha, kaitiaki of the sea that in Māori legend are protective
beings associated with specific locations. As a mosasaur
Taniwhasaurus was very similar to the famous Tylosaurus,
so much so
in fact that one Tylosaurus species, T.
haumuriensis is now
considered to be a synonym to the Taniwhasaurus
type species T.
oweni. Other species of Taniwhasaurus
are associated with different
locations with T. antarcticus being known from
Antartica, and T.
mikasaensis being known from Japan.
Like Tylosaurus, Taniwhasaurus has a lack of teeth on the front most parts of the jaw, something that has been seen as an adaptation for ramming prey suggesting that Taniwhasaurus had the same method of hunting and attack. The snout however is proportionately shorter than in Tylosaurus, suggesting a proportionately smaller prey preference. Taniwhasaurus may have also been an opportunistic predator that attacked a range of different animals when able to, something that is suggested from the known and greatly varied stomach contents of other mosasaurs.
New Zealand is a hot bed for many marine reptile discoveries, some of which include the specialist mosasaur Prognathodon as well as the incredibly long necked plesiosaurs Mauisaurus and Tuarangisaurus.
- An unusual tylosaurine mosasaur from New Zealand: A new skull of Taniwhasaurus oweni (Lower Haumurian: Upper Cretaceous). - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 25 (2): 393–401. - Michael W. Caldwell, Robert Holmes, Gorden L. Bell Jr. & JoanWiffen - 2005.
- The synonymy of the Late Cretaceous mosasaur (Squamata) genus Lakumasaurus from Antarctica with Taniwhasaurus from New Zealand and its bearing upon faunal similarity within the Weddellian Province. - Geological Journal. 42 (2): 203–211. - J. E. Martin & M. Fernández - 2007.
- New species of Taniwhasaurus (Mosasauridae, Tylosaurinae) from the upper Santonian-lower Campanian (Upper Cretaceous) of Hokkaido, Japan. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28 (2): 339-348. - M. W. Caldwell, T. Konishi, I. Obata & K. Muramoto - 2008.
- A New Hypothesis of the Phylogenetic Relationships of the Tylosaurinae (Squamata: Mosasauroidea). - Frontiers in Earth Science. 7 (47). - Paulina Jiménez-Huidobro & Michael W. Caldwell - 2019.