Marine Reptiles

Where in NZ Haumuri bluff near Kaikoura, Waipara River, Shag Point, Conway River, Jed River, Mangahouanga Stream, Tinui,
When Cretaceous (145-65 million years ago)
Scale Large

What are they?

  • Unidentified marine reptile vertebra, Mangahouanga Stream, Hawkes Bay

    Unidentified marine reptile vertebra, Mangahouanga Stream, Hawkes Bay

    Air-breathing, cold-blooded vertebrates who lived in the oceans.
  • A wide variety of types from crocodiles and turtles, to ichthyosaurs plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.
  • Found mainly as partial skeletons and skulls, or individual bones and teeth.
  • New Zealand’s best known Mesozoic reptiles are large Late Cretaceous fossils:
  • Other marine reptiles include ichthyosaurs (‘fish lizards’) and sea turtles. None of these distinctive Cretaceous reptiles is known to have survived the Cretaceous/Tertiary (or K/T boundary) mass extinction 65 million years ago.
    • Mosasaur (sea lizards) collections, for example, include several specimens with well-preserved skulls, such as Prognathodon and Rikisaurus. Mosasaurs looked like stocky, blunt-snouted crocodiles with paddle-like limbs.
    • Turtle femora, Mangahouanga Stream

      Plesiosaurs, which have no close living relatives, include Kaiwhekea, with a medium-sized head and longish neck, and the dramatically long-necked and small headed Mauisaurus.

Used for?

See some examples in our image gallery..