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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous
Taniwhasaurus Antarctic Dinosaurs.jpg
Reconstructed skeleton of T. antarcticus, Field Museum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Superfamily: Mosasauroidea
Family: Mosasauridae
Subfamily: Tylosaurinae
Genus: Taniwhasaurus
Hector, 1874
Type species
Taniwhasaurus oweni
Hector, 1874

see text

  • Lakumasaurus Novas et al., 2002
  • Yezosaurus Caldwell et al., 2008

Taniwhasaurus (from the Maori Taniwha, a supernatural, aquatic creature, and the Greek σαυρος/sauros, meaning lizard) is an extinct genus of mosasaur (carnivorous marine lizards) which inhabited New Zealand, Japan and Antarctica.[1] The genus was a close relative of the genera Tylosaurus and Hainosaurus.


Skull and jaw material of Taniwhasaurus oweni

T. oweni[edit]

Taniwhasaurus oweni, the type species for Taniwhasaurus, was named by Hector in 1874 from a fossil specimen found in the late Campanian Conway Formation outcrops at Haumuri Bluff, New Zealand. Known from an individual that may have measured at least 6+ meters in length,[citation needed] based on the estimations of the remains found. It is synonymous with Tylosaurus haumuriensis, which was named more recently, from the front parts of the jaws.

T. antarcticus[edit]

The genus Lakumasaurus was described in 2002 by Novas et al. from a fossil specimen found in the Santa Marta Formation of James Ross Island, Antarctica. When the type material was reexamined in 2007, James E. Martin and Marta Fernández determined Lakumasaurus to be a junior synonym of Taniwhasaurus and recombined the species Lakumasaurus antarcticus as T. antarcticus.[2]

T. mikasaensis[edit]

"Yezosaurus" was the name given to an undescribed genus of prehistoric marine reptile. Originally thought to be a theropod dinosaur, it was later identified as a mosasaur or ichthyosaur which lived in what is now Japan.[3] The "type species", "Yezosaurus mikasaensis", was coined by Obata and Muramoto in 1977, but was not formally described until 2008, when the species T. mikasaensis was described by M.W. Caldwell et al (thereby making Y. mikasaensis a nomen nudum).


  1. ^ Caldwell MW, Konishi T, Obata I, Muramoto K. 2008. 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.
  2. ^ Martin, J.E.; Fernández, M. (2007). "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. doi:10.1002/gj.1066.
  3. ^ Yezosaurus in the Dinosaur Encyclopaedia at Dino Russ's Lair