Facts about Mosasaurs, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Mosasaurs


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Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Sauropsida
  Order Squamata
  Suborder Scleroglossa
  Infraorder Anguimorpha
  Family Mosasauridae
Mosasaurs are a group of extinct marine reptiles. They were powerful swimmers with long streamlined snake-like bodies (although they did have four limbs all finned, and possibly a finned tail), and ate fish, turtles, sea urchins, and shellfish including molluscs. The smallest known mosasaur was about 10 feet (3 meters) long, but the largest grew as long as 57 feet (17.5 meters).

Mosasaurs were not dinosaurs, but were lepidosaurs (reptiles with overlapping scales, the group that includes lizards, snakes, and sphenodonts such as the tuatara):
  • Mosasaurs are believed to have evolved from aigialosaurs, which were semi-aquatic lizards that lived during the early Cretaceous period, and who are believed to be related to monitor lizards.

  • In 1869, Edward D. Cope suggested that Mosasaurs and snakes share a common marine ancestor. This idea was based on the similarities observed in Mosasaur and snake jaws, the reduced limbs, and the fact that Mosasaurs may have moved in a similar way to snakes. In the 1990s, the discovery of fossils of early snakes with vestigial limbs in marine sediments seemed to provide support for this hypothesis. However, more recently, other early snake fossils have been found, and since these show animals with hind limbs and an apparently burrowing lifestyle, some doubt has been cast on the idea that Mosasaurs and snakes shared a common ancestor.
Mosasaur skeletions:
Mosasaur fossils

Mosasaurs appear to have first evolved during early or middle Cretaceous period, perhaps around 96 million years ago. In the last 20 million years of the Cretaceous, following the extinction of Ichthyosaurs, they became the dominant predators. However, all Mosasaurs died out during the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period.

The first publicized discovery of a Mosasaur fossil occurred in 1778. A fossil was found in a limestone quarry in 1780, near the city of Masstricht in Holland. It was not however named or scientifically described until later, the name eventually given, Mosasaur, means "Meuse lizard", and refers to the nearby Meuse River. Subsequently, other fossils which had been found earlier in the same area, and had been on display since around 1770, were also identified as being from a Mosasaur. Since then, other Mosasaur fossils have been found in many other countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Sweden, and the United States, as well as in Africa and off the coast of Antarctica.

Mosasaurs Timeline:

Mosasaurs were marine reptiles that lived between 96 and 65 million years ago

Mosasaurs were marine reptiles that lived between 96 and 65 million years ago

Related Information & Resources

See Also

Mosasaur Books

Here are some books from Amazon.com:

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Sea Dragons: Predators of the Prehistoric Oceans
By Richard Ellis

Brand: University Press of Kansas
Hardcover (312 pages)

Sea Dragons: Predators of the Prehistoric Oceans
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Product Description:
Working from the fossil record, Richard Ellis explores the natural history of these fierce predators, speculates on their habits, and tells how they eventually became extinct - or did they? He traces the 200-million-year history of the great ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs who swam the ancient oceans - and who, according to some, may even still frequent the likes of Loch Ness.
The first book about these animals in nearly a century, Sea Dragons draws upon the most recent scientific research to reconstruct their lives and habitats. Along the way, the book also provides insights into and tales about the work, discoveries, and competing theories that compose the world of vertebrate paleontology.
The Science of Sea Monsters: Mosasaurs and other Prehistoric Reptiles of the Sea
Book House

The Science of Sea Monsters: Mosasaurs and other Prehistoric Reptiles of the Sea
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Millions of years ago, the oceans teemed with creatures that were every bit as fascinating and ferocious as the dinosaurs that ruled the land. These were the marine reptiles, including the massive-jawed pliosaur and the long-necked plesiosaur. This gruesome guide explores how these awesome creatures lived, how they hunted, and how we know about them today. Packed with fact-filled, easy-to-read text, quirky illustrations and side panels providing more icky information.
Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs (Reptilia, Sauria) (Classic Reprint)
By Dale A. Russell

Forgotten Books
Released: 2017-02-09
Paperback (258 pages)

Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs (Reptilia, Sauria) (Classic Reprint)
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Excerpt from Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs (Reptilia, Sauria)

Surely as much has been written about mosasaurs as any other group of fossil reptiles of comparable abundance and diversity. The division of the family Mosasauridae into three major subfamilies and the close relationship to varanid lizards has been generally recognized for more than fifty years. Yet on a generic and specific level their taxonomy has been so confused that even after a careful survey of the literature it was usually impossible to be sure of the correct binomial to use in identifying a given specimen. As a consequence modern verte brate paleontologists have by and large tended to ignore mosasaurs as a subject of research.

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com

This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
Dinosaur Lake III:Infestation
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Released: 2014-12-31
Kindle Edition (411 pages)

Dinosaur Lake III:Infestation
Product Description:
Chief Park Ranger Henry Shore has dealt with and fought real live dinosaurs at his beloved Crater Lake National Park for over six years. With the help of his rangers, a few brave FBI friends and army soldiers he’d been victorious over a prehistoric lake creature and years later some particularly fiendish, and clever, specimens of the flying variety. He and his newspaper publisher wife, Ann, thought their park was finally rid of the monsters and they could reclaim their tranquil life in a place they cherished. Not so. For suddenly across the park new and even more malevolent mutant species of dinosaur begin to appear and create havoc, attacking the park’s visitors and threatening its peace. And this time the primeval scourge isn’t confined to just their park. The creatures have moved into the nearby towns, across the western United States and up into Canada. They are so much more aggressive, smarter and hungrier than any that have come before and the infestation is spreading further and faster than Henry and Ann can even imagine. This time there’s no easy way to defeat the dinosaurs. There’s too many of them and they’re too devious. This time it’s full out war and the victor will someday claim Earth. Now there is a Dinosaur Lake IV: Dinosaur Wars out and - yes I finally decided to write another a 5th one- will come out in 2018.
Mosasaur, the Return: Book Two of the Mosasaur Series
By David D Holt

Released: 2009-01-08
Kindle Edition (354 pages)

Mosasaur, the Return: Book Two of the Mosasaur Series
Product Description:
James King is back, in this sequel that pits man against beast-again. Flashback: the year is 1973 and the W.A.R facility has deposited highly toxic and radioactive waste on a secret base in central Florida. From the 1960's thru the 1980's, another top secret genetic research facility near Welaka releases hundreds of test subjects into the wild near the toxic dumping ground. Since 1973, strange wildlife attacks upon humans have taken place; but suddenly stopped in the year 1992 when the first live Mosasaur appeared through a large sink hole and after seven grueling days of death, that first Mosasaur was exterminated but not before leaving something behind-a brood of seven vicious hungry pups! Eight years have passed and no more attacks upon humans have taken place since that horrible week in 1992, and now only three of the Mosasaur brood remains as they forage for food. The food that they've consumed during the past eight years has been contaminated with toxic and radioactive residues, accelerating their growth rate. Then the attacks begin, first with two fishermen, then a party boat full of people and next three escaped prisoners; the number of dead continue to increase as Putnam County is once again locked down with the US Army, National Guard and countless Law Enforcement officers in a desperate search and destroy mission. John Jason Robards, the eccentric millionaire and fossil collector is back with a vengeance as he maneuvers his childhood friend the Governor into a plot to capture the killer Mosasaur, for Robards has secretly built a massive habitat to hold the vicious predator. Mr. Robards entices Dr. King into running the facility and thus giving Dr. King full access to the Mosasaur, but only if they can catch it in time before it's too late.
Borrowed Time
By Greg Leitich Smith

Clarion Books
Released: 2015-11-10
Kindle Edition (197 pages)

Borrowed Time
Product Description:
Praise for Chronal Engine:

“Think Survivor and Robinson Crusoe, with a helping of Jurassic Park and a seasoning of The Time Machine.” —School Library Journal
“This is exactly the book young dino fans would write themselves.” —Booklist
In this time-travel dinosaur adventure, Max Pierson-Takahashi and his friend Petra return to the days of the dinosaurs, where they must survive attacks from mosasaurs, tyrannosaurs, and other deadly creatures, including a vengeful, pistol-toting girl from the 1920s. The fast pace, mind-bending time twists, and Greg Leitich Smith’s light, humorous touch make this an exciting, fun choice for readers looking for adventure and nonstop action.
Mosasaurus: Ruler of the Sea - a Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals Book (with Audiobook CD and poster) (Smithsonian's Prehistoric Pals)
By Karen Wagner

Hardcover (32 pages)

Mosasaurus: Ruler of the Sea - a Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals Book (with Audiobook CD and poster) (Smithsonian s Prehistoric Pals)
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Product Description:
The prehistoric sea can be a dangerous place, even for an enormous creature like Mosasaurus. Will Mosasaurus make his way through the water safely and find himself a tasty snack? Kids are bound to love this book with its detailed illustrations and storyline that has been reviewed by paleontologists at the Smithsonian Institution for accuracy. Included is an Audiobook CD and a tear-out poster for extended learning fun.

Book Features:
- Hardcover: Pull-out CD tray inside of cover
- Fantastic illustrations and accurate facts
- 32 pages
- Poster and pictorial glossary
- Audiobook CD
- Appropriate for ages 3-9
- Hardcover: 8 3/4 x 11 1/4 inches
A new species of Globidens from South Dakota, and a Review of Globidentine Mosasaurs
By Dale A. Russell

Leopold Classic Library
Released: 2015-04-23
Paperback (30 pages)

A new species of Globidens from South Dakota, and a Review of Globidentine Mosasaurs
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Product Description:
Leopold Classic Library is delighted to publish this classic book as part of our extensive collection. As part of our on-going commitment to delivering value to the reader, we have also provided you with a link to a website, where you may download a digital version of this work for free. Many of the books in our collection have been out of print for decades, and therefore have not been accessible to the general public. Whilst the books in this collection have not been hand curated, an aim of our publishing program is to facilitate rapid access to this vast reservoir of literature. As a result of this book being first published many decades ago, it may have occasional imperfections. These imperfections may include poor picture quality, blurred or missing text. While some of these imperfections may have appeared in the original work, others may have resulted from the scanning process that has been applied. However, our view is that this is a significant literary work, which deserves to be brought back into print after many decades. While some publishers have applied optical character recognition (OCR), this approach has its own drawbacks, which include formatting errors, misspelt words, or the presence of inappropriate characters. Our philosophy has been guided by a desire to provide the reader with an experience that is as close as possible to ownership of the original work. We hope that you will enjoy this wonderful classic book, and that the occasional imperfection that it might contain will not detract from the experience.
The Last Living Mosasaur
By Paul M Olsen III

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (26 pages)

The Last Living Mosasaur
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Adventure of Wippy, a mosasaur who survives extinction to end up transporting through a wormhole into the future where humans exist.
Meg: Generations
By Steve Alten

A&M Publishing
Released: 2018-06-14
Kindle Edition

Meg: Generations
Product Description:
GENERATIONS opens where NIGHTSTALKERS left off. The Liopleurodon offspring has been moved to a holding tank aboard the Dubai-Land transport ship, Tonga for its journey to the Middle East. While the Crown Prince’s investors gawk at the creature, below deck in the tanker’s hold, another captured beast is awakened from its drug-induced state and goes on a rampage. The vessel sinks, the Lio escapes… and three distinct plots emerge to be woven together by master storyteller Steve Alten…
•The hunt to recapture the Lio.
•The hunt to capture and pen any surviving Megalodon pups birthed by Lizzy and Bela in the Salish Sea.
•A Stage-IV death sentence of cancer that will force Jonas Taylor to return to the most frightening location on Earth – the Panthalassa Sea.

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