The New Zealand Sea Monsters Picture

Common name: Mauisaur
Scientific name: Mauisaurus haasti
Time: Maastrichtian (65 million years ago)
Size: 20 meters long, 8 tons
Diet: Small marine animals
Distribution: New Zealand
While the strange Leptocleidids make up the bulk of the medium-sized marine reptiles around Australia, New Zealand and the Antarctic it is this animal which earns the title of the biggest animal in New Zealand waters – and probably the biggest marine animal of the Cretaceous. This mythological giant is fittingly named after the powerful New Zealand Maori mythological god Maui. Despite the breathtaking length of 20 meters the Mauisaur is a fairly harmless creature, mostly feeding on squid, fish and other small marine animals. It belongs to a group of huge long-necked Plesiosaurs known as Elasmosaurs. These animals are way too big and front-heavy to lay eggs on the beach like sea turtles do, so they give birth to live young like many other reptiles. Like the smaller Plesiosaurs they have only few young and live in social groups to care for them.


Common name: Taniwha Mosasaur
Scientific name: Taniwhasaurus oweni
Time: Maastrichtian (65 million years ago)
Size: 12 meters long, 7 tons
Diet: Fish, Cephalopods, Marine reptiles
Distribution: New Zealand
Mosasaurs are the apex predators in the Cretaceous seas, successfully taking over the niche filled by Pliosaurs during the Jurassic. The Taniwha Mosasaur is fittingly named after a supernatural aquatic creature from Maori mythology. It belongs to a group of very slender Mosasaurs known as Tylosaurs; they have a more snake-like anatomy and smaller tail flukes than their relative Platecarpus. They are generalists and will eat anything they can ambush, no matter whether large fish, cephalopods like Ammonites or Belemnites, Plesiosaurs and even younger Mosasaurs. Females are larger and more aggressive than males, and apart from mating time they are usually solitary creatures. Unlike the social Plesiosaurs female Mosasaurs give birth to several young which are already independent from the mother when born. They only protect their babies for a few days against other Mosasaurs, and then they abandon them or may even try to prey on then themselves.
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