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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 69–70Ma
An artist's conception of the head of Kaiwhekea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Plesiosauria
Family: Leptocleididae
Genus: Kaiwhekea
Cruickshank & Fordyce, 2002
  • Kaiwhekea katiki Cruickshank & Fordyce, 2002 (type)

Kaiwhekea is an extinct genus of plesiosaur from the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian age) of what is now New Zealand. The type species, Kaiwhekea katiki, was first described by Arthur Cruickshank and Ewan Fordyce in 2002. Kaiwhekea was approximately 7 metres long and lived around 69-70 million years ago. The single known specimen, found in the Katiki Formation, is nearly complete, and is on display at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand.[1]

Kaiwhekea has been placed as an aristonectid plesiosaur close to Aristonectes (O'Keefe and Street, 2009). In 2010, Kaiwhekea was transferred to Leptocleididae.[2]


  1. ^ Cruickshank, Arthur R.I. and Fordyce, R. Ewan (2002). "A new marine reptile (Sauropterygia) from New Zealand: further evidence for a Late Cretaceous austral radiation of cryptoclidid plesiosaurs". Palaeontology 45 (3): 557–575. doi:10.1111/1475-4983.00249. 
  2. ^ Ketchum, H. F., and Benson, R. B. J. (2010). "Global interrelationships of Plesiosauria (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) and the pivotal role of taxon sampling in determining the outcome of phylogenetic analyses". Biological Reviews 85: 361–392. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2009.00107.x. PMID 20002391. 

External links[edit]

  • Kaiwhekea, University of Otago, New Zealand