Taniwhasaurus

Name: Taniwhasaurus ‭(‬Taniwha lizard‭)‬.
Phonetic: Ta-ni-wa-sore-us.
Named By: Hector‭ ‬-‭ ‬1874.
Synonyms: Lakumasurus,‭ ‬Tylosaurus haumuriensis.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptila,‭ ‬Squamata,‭ ‬Scleroglossa,‭ ‬Mosasauridae,‭ ‬Tylosaurinae.
Species: T.‭ ‬oweni‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬T.‭ ‬antarticus,‭ ‬T.‭ ‬mikasaensis.
Diet: Carnivore.
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.

       First 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.



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