80 million-year-old fossil of predator found in the Hawke's Bay

By Kimiora Kaire-Melbourne
  • North Island: East Coast

The teeth of a marine predator approximately 80 million years old were recently found in the Maungataniwha Native Forest in the Hawkes Bay.

The teeth are roughly 8cm long and 3.5cm wide.  Scientists have confirmed that the teeth once belonged to a mosasaur.   Mosasaurs are known to be large marine reptiles and were once dominant marine predators however the exact species of the beast has not yet been identified.

Management of Maungataniwha currently sits under the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust which was established in 2006 to help restore the mauri of the ngahere.

The manager of Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (FLRT) Pete Shaw and DOC biodiversity ranger Helen Jonas discovered the fossil while searching for whio up a small stream in the Maungataniwha forest.

The hope now is that a medical CT scan can be done on the fossil fragments to create a 3D digital model of the teeth.

This model will then be sent to experts in Canada to identify what species of mosasaur the teeth belonged to.