Class – Reptilia
Order – Squamata
Family – Mosasauridae
Genus – Mosasaurus (“Meuse River Lizard”)
With strong jaws and sharp teeth, Mosasaurus was a powerful predator in its marine habitat. It likely ate fish, sharks, and marine reptiles including turtles and even other mosasaurs.
Skeletons of Mosasaurus show evidence, including bite marks and teeth embedded in bones, that point to Mosasaurus fighting with members of its own kind.
Mosasaurus had a streamlined body with four paddle-like flippers that helped maneuver it through the water. Its tail had a fleshy upper lobe that gave it a shark-like appearance.
It is believed to have grown over 40 feet long. Some examples may have been even larger, but based on incomplete remains it is difficult for scientists to do anything more than give educated guesses.
Mosasaurus fossils were first discovered in the mid 1700s,when a skull was uncovered that was misidentified as a whale. A second skull found in the late 1700s was originally believed to belong to a crocodile. In the early 1800s, this skull was correctly identified as a large marine reptile.
The earliest remains were found in Maastricht in the Netherlands. Later Mosasaurus fossils would also be discovered in North America.