Tylosaurus Cretaceous ferocious deadliest sea creature
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Tylosaurus Cretaceous ferocious deadliest sea creature

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 The name Tylosaurus comes from Greek and means - "knob lizard, a large, predatory marine lizard closely related to modern monitor lizards and to snakes.


The first specimen of a skull and vertebrae discovered in Kansas in 1868 was given the name Macrosaurus prioger by Cope. Approximately a year later Cope re-assigned the material to Liodon. Marsh described a more complete individual in 1872, however his name Rhinosaurus (Nose lizard) had already been used, and its replacement Rhamposaurus (Beak lizard) was also already in use by another animal. Both of these proposed names referenced the strong snout and this is loosely reflected in the final name of Tylosaurus (Knob lizard). This included all of his specimens as well as the material named by cope to produce the type species T. prioger.

Tylosaurus was  one of the deadliest hunter of the ancient seas,due to the reason that in his time all other would-be competitors, such as ichthyosaurs, were already extinct. Though they evolved from terrestrial lizards, the paddle-like limbs of giant mosasaurs like Tylosaurus were useless on land.
Ready to seize and kill just about any smaller creature that crossed its path with true jaws of death—lined on each side with two rows of pointy, cone-shaped teeth. Tylosaurus used its snout to locate prey, which, once inside the mosasaur's menacing jaws, was swallowed whole. When the sea monster opened wide for the final gulp, two extra rows of teeth on the roof of its mouth allowed crippled captives no escape.


 Tylosaurus grew more than 45 feet (14 meters) long, making it the largest of the marine reptiles called mosasaurs. Like all mosasaurs, a long and muscular, vertically flattened tail powered Tylosaurus through the water, allowing it to ambush its prey with rapid bursts of acceleration. Paddle-like limbs helped steer the slim body covered in lizard-like scales through the water.

 Tylosaurus was one of the larger mosasaurs that lived towards the end of the Cretaceous period, something which has secured its frequent inclusion in popular media such as books and television documentaries. Rivals to Tylosaurus in terms of upper size include Mosasaurus and Hainosaurus.

Unlike the earlier pliosaurs which relied upon their flippers for locomotion, mosasaurs relied upon their tails to propel themselves though the water, and Tylosaurus was certainly no exception. The tail consisted of more that eighty vertebrae, each with a tall neural spine that projected upwards and deep 'V' shaped chevron on the underside. These vertebrae resulted in a tail that was laterally compressed but deep so that the maximum surface area available could be used for pushing against the water and propelling Tylosaurus forward.



Though many species of Tylosaurus have been named over the years, only a few are now recognized by scientists as taxonomically valid.

They are as follows:

  •         Tylosaurus proriger (Cope, 1869), from the Santonian and lower to middle Campanian of North America (Kansas, Alabama, Nebraska, etc.);

  •         Tylosaurus nepaeolicus (Cope, 1874 ), from the Santonian of North America (Kansas);

  •         Tylosaurus kansasensis Everhart, 2005, from the late Coniacian of Kansas.




 Shallow seas of North America Late Cretaceous (85-80 million years ago)





 Preserved stomach contents indicate a diet heavy on fish, but seabirds, sharks, plesiosaurs, and other mosasaurs also failed to escape Tylosaurus's lethal grip and making him one of the most ferocious mosasaur, having a varied diet including fish, sharks, smaller mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and flightless diving birds such as Hesperornis. In some paleoenvironments, Tylosaurus seems to have preferred shallow, nearshore waters (as with the Eutaw Formation and Mooreville Chalk Formation of Alabama), while favoring deeper water farther out from shore in other environments (as with the Niobrara Chalk of the western U.S.).

The fact that one Tylosaurus was discovered with a plesiosaur in its stomach, doesn’t mean that Tylosaurus had in his diet other dinosaurs.

According with some theories, in this case of a Tylosaurus feeding upon a dinosaur is most likely a case of scavenging, with a Tylosaurus discovering the body of a dinosaur that had drowned and been swept out to sea.



Interesting Facts

 Mosasaurs gave birth to live young. A baby Tylosaurus was 3 to 6 ft (1 to 2 m) long—small enough for predatory fish and sharks to eat.

Size relative to a bus.


Although Tylosaurus had large teeth and powerful jaws, these may not have been the primary weapons of attack. Due to some anatomical discoveries the scientists notice that the forward areas of the jaws have a severe reduction in teeth to the point of being toothless. The snout is also reinforced making it stronger than other marine reptiles, showing signs of compression damage that seem to have been caused by a violent impact. These all point to Tylosaurus relying upon brute force to ram prey at high speeds.


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