Mauisaurus (Greek for "Maui lizard"); pronounced MOU-ee-SORE-us
Shores of Australasia
Late Cretaceous (65 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 55 feet long and 10-15 tons
Extremely long neck and slender body
The name Mauisaurus is misleading in two ways: first, this marine reptile shouldn't be confused with Maiasaura (a land-dwelling, duck-billed dinosaur known for its parenting skills), and second, the "Maui" in its name refers not to the lush Hawaiian island, but to a deity of the Maori people of New Zealand. Now that we've gotten those details out of the way, Mauisaurus was one of the biggest plesiosaurs still swimming at the end of the Cretaceous period, attaining lengths of close to 60 feet from head to tail (though a fair proportion of this was taken up by its long, slender neck, a typical plesiosaur feature). Because it's one of the few dinosaur-era fossils to be discovered in New Zealand, Mauisaurus has been featured there on an official postage stamp.