Fun Tylosaurus Facts For Kids

Anamika Balouria
Oct 20, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Sep 30, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Read these Tylosaurus facts to learn about this marine reptile related to the modern-day monitor lizard.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

The Tylosaurus was among the category of deadly predatory marine animals and cannibals who would eat anything that they saw moving around them. This marine species has been telecasted many times on the National Geographic channel as well.

From the natural history and science of these reptile animals, their specimens date back to the Late Cretaceous period, 85 million years ago to 80 million years ago.

The species, unless otherwise noted, is closely related to modern-day monitor lizards and snakes. These marine reptiles would end up eating anything, even their predators, such as Mosasaurus.

The marine reptile was one of the largest mosasaur reptiles from the Late Cretaceous period. They had very strong jaws structured in a row and pointed teeth in a cone shape. The specimens of these giant marine animals helped scientists to know that they used their snout to find their prey.

The stomach contents of the giant marine reptile tell paleontologists that their diet consisted of fish, seabirds, and sharks. The fossil remains have been found in the Western Interior Seaway, western Kansas, and in other parts of North America. These sea cannibals had paddle limbs to swim in the deep, shallow seas.

The flattened tail helped them to swim fast. They were described by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1872, Edward Drinker Cope in 1869, and Charles Sternberg in 1918. There have been different theories from all three paleontologists.

If you enjoyed reading this article about marine reptiles, then do read some interesting and surprising facts about species such as Longisquama and Sarcosuchus.

Tylosaurus Interesting Facts

Was the Tylosaurus a dinosaur?

The Tylosaurus was not a dinosaur species, but is known to be the deadliest sea cannibal from western Kansas and North America. The species was one of the largest among mosasaurs who lived in the deep seas and often competed with their predators or their key enemy, the Mosasaurus.

From their name, you might get confused, but they were in the clade Dinosauria, i.e., dinosaur. The University of Kansas has preserved the fossils of these mosasaurs in the Natural History Museum.

How do you pronounce 'Tylosaurus'?

The pronunciation of the word Tylosaurus is very easy and is pronounced as 'Tie-lo-sore-us'. 

What type of prehistoric reptile was a Tylosaurus?

The Tylosaurus was a large and deadly reptile cannibal from the family of Mosasauridae. The Tylosaurus was often considered the most deadly reptile predator in the Early and Late phases of the Cretaceous period ever found on the Earth.

Many paleontologists have worked on the discovery of these marine fossils, including the Tylosaurus skeleton, with Everhart being the presumptive last paleontologist who gave another theory regarding the specimens and fossil remains in 2004. They belong to the class Reptilia and the order Squamata.

The type species of the genus include many species, such as T. proriger, T. nepaeolicus, T. bernardi, T. gaudryi, T. ivoensis, T. iembeensis, T. pembinensis, and T. saskatchewanensis.

They had a slim body like a lizard. The Tylosaurus proriger type species was the main species.

In which geological period did the Tylosaurus live?

From the specimens and fossils of the Tylosaurus, it is known that they lived in the Late Cretaceous period, 85 million years ago to 80 million years ago.

When did the Tylosaurus become extinct?

The Tylosaurus could have become extinct by the end of the Late Cretaceous period. However, there is no specific content available regarding when they became extinct. 

Where did the Tylosaurus live?

The Tylosaurus lived in the Western Interior Seaway, western Kansas and North America. The fossils of these mosasaurs have been kept in the Natural History Museum by the University of Kansas. They have been found in the Santonian and lower to middle Campanian of North America. 

What was a Tylosaurus' habitat?

The Tylosaurus dwelled in the deep, shallow seas and were known to be open water swimmers as they were carnivores and cannibals. They preferred to be in open water rather than coral reefs and lagoons, where most small crustaceans hide from predators like the Tylosaurus proriger.

Who did the Tylosaurus live with?

There is a lot of content available regarding their group and school size. The Tylosaurus proriger dinosaur used to live in a pack of 15-20 which consisted of adults, juveniles, and females.

They were found in groups because they were very aggressive toward marine reptile lizards if they attacked their new hatchlings or offspring. They shared their aquatic habitat with open-water swimmers like fish, sharks, and marine dinosaurs such as Plesiosaurs or the Mosasaurus.

How long did a Tylosaurus live?

The exact specific age of this sea predator with strong jaws is not evaluated and is unknown. However, according to the fossil remains and specimens, the sea genus Tylosaurus lived around 85 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

How did they reproduce?

The Tylosaurus proriger specimen gives details about their aggressive behavior. They must have been dominant and aggressive toward other male dinosaurs in this species when it came to finding a female mate.

They could often cope with aggressive and deadly fights with those in their own species type. Though there is no specific data about them being mammals or how they reproduced, it is speculated that they did not lay eggs.

It is believed they gave birth directly to their infants in the open water. Newborns were not found near the coral reef or lagoons, but with a group of adults, including both males and females, that protected them from predators in the seas.

Tylosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Tylosaurus look like?

The Tylosaurus proriger is often related to modern-day lizards like monitor lizards and snakes. They were very quick and fast open water sea reptiles that were classified among one of the earliest deadly mosasaurs predators from Kansas.

From the history of their fossils, these sea reptiles' bodies had a long tail-like fin which helped them to swim fast along with their paddle limbs. Their snout was as slim as their slender body.

There have been many vertebrae found in their fossil remains along with skulls. They had a flat thin tail. The Tylosaurus size was smaller than the Mosasaurus but they had fine and strong jaws with cone-shaped sharp teeth.

No one or creature could escape their teeth trap. The scales on their body resembled modern-day lizard body scales.

The Tylosaurus specimen discovery is credited to Everhart, Sternberg, Cope, and Marsh.

How many bones did a Tylosaurus have?

The exact number of bones in these mosasaurs has not been evaluated and only the discovery of 13 vertebrae has been found, according to the paleontologists Marsh, Cope, and Sternberg. The science of these sea predators, mosasaurs, was unknown until 2001.

How did they communicate?

The Tylosaurus mosasaur was an aggressive sea creature who communicated using tactile cues and physical gestures. From the specimen, it is found that they lived in groups to protect their offspring, so they must have used some chemical cues and sound waves to sense danger around them in the open sea of North America. 

How big were the Tylosaurus?

The deadly predator mosasaur Tylosaurus was 35-49 ft (10.7-15 m) long in length. They were as big as the length of a school bus.

How fast could a Tylosaurus move?

As a mosasaur, the Tylosaurus had a slim and slender body with a thin tail-like fin. It must have been very quick and fast in its movements. In general, the speed of mosasaurs is 30 mph (48 kph), which is as fast as a whale's speed.

How much did Tylosaurus weigh?

The mosasaur Tylosaurus weighed around 17-22 tons (15422-19958 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for the male and female reptiles of this species. They were known by their generic names.

What would you call a baby Tylosaurus?

The babies of Tylosaurus reptiles were called hatchlings, juveniles, or infants.

What did they eat?

From the discovered specimen of a Tylosaurus, it is known that this reptiles were carnivores and their diet consisted of marine animals such as fish, turtles, small dinosaurs, sharks, Elasmosaurus', and Plesiosaurs. This is known due to the stomach fossil and specimen kept in the National Museum of United States in Smithsonian.

They even preyed on their rival infants, other Mosasaurus'. Their teeth were very sharp and no one or prey could have been able to escape their mouth trap.

How aggressive were they?

The National Geographic Society has contributed a lot to learn more about these aggressive and cannibal sea reptiles from the Late Cretaceous period. These species were open sea creatures that could often gulp most of the moving creatures around them.

They swam in groups to often defend themselves from predators such as mosasaurs. They were categorized as among the most deadly species of the Late Cretaceous period.

Did you know...

Marsh suggested the name Rhinosaurus for the Tylosaurus species, meaning 'nose lizard', but Cope renamed them as Rhamposaurus. However, later it was found out that both the names Rhinosaurus and Rhamposaurus have been occupied by some other species. At last, Marsh named the species Tylosaurus, meaning 'knob lizard', in 1872.

Why is it called the Tylosaurus?

The name Tylosaurus means 'large snout' or 'protuberance with a sharp, blunt, and powerful head'. As they were cannibals, the paleontologist must have named them this with the context of the meaning of the word Tylosaurus.

Who would win Mosasaurus vs Tylosaurus?

Either could have won the fight because both species had an equal amount of energy, but mosasaurs were larger in size than the Tylosaurus. This suggests that the Mosasaurus might have won the fight. However, in rare cases, this could be totally opposite. They were both rivals of each other and often engaged in fights.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Nothosaurus interesting facts, or Clidastes facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Tylosaurus coloring pages.

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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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