There are few Jurassic World residents that can rival Tyrannosaurus for ferocity, but surely Mosasaurus is one of them. Stretching 60 feet18m long from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail, this giant lizard is the longest carnivore in the park.
While Mosasaurus may not be as much of a household name as some other Jurassic World creatures, the marine reptile is a fossil celebrity. The first remains of the Cretaceous carnivore were discovered in a Dutch chalk quarry all the way back in 1764. No one had seen anything like it before, and scholars of the day considered it to be some kind of whale or crocodile. It wasn’t until 1798 that naturalist Adriaan Gilles Camper figured out that the immense creature was a close relative of today’s monitor lizards.
Since then paleontologists have uncovered remains of Mosasaurus in 70-66 million year old rocks on both sides of the Atlantic. These giant reptiles slid through ancient seas that stretched from prehistoric Europe to North America. And while paleontologists have recognized several species of Mosasaurus, the size of our Jurassic World animal suggests that it’s Mosasaurus maximus—one of the largest marine predators of all time.
As you can see for yourself at Jurassic World, Mosasaurus is supremely adapted to life in the water. The descendant of lizards that once lived on land, the arms and legs of Mosasaurus have been adapted into paddles that help it brake and turn. The reptile gets most of its forward thrust from a long, powerful tail, and special, streamlined scales allow Mosasaurus to easily cut through the water. And that’s not the only part of Mosasaurus that’s sharp. The giant lizard has a second set of teeth on its palate that would help prevent any slippery prey from wriggling their way out of the Mosasaur’s maw.
But what to feed such a large and voracious lizard? Jurassic World’s veterinary experts consulted with paleontologists to determine a suitable diet for our aquatic star.
Fossil gut contents indicated that Mosasaurs ate a variety of prey—from fish and coil-shelled squid cousins called ammonites to birds and other marine reptiles—but it wasn’t until recently that researchers found such evidence for Mosasaurus itself. A rare specimen preserved with its last meal not only indicated that Mosasaurus ate large fish, but that the lizard can be a messy eater, chomping large prey into more manageable chunks before swallowing the pieces. Make sure you schedule time to see the spectacle yourself at our daily Mosasaurus Feeding Show!