/moh"seuh sawr'/, n.
any of several extinct carnivorous marine lizards from the Cretaceous Period, having the limbs modified into broad, webbed paddles.
[ < NL Mosasaurus (1823) genus name, equiv. to L Mosa the MEUSE river (where a species was first discovered) + NL -saurus -SAUR]

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      extinct aquatic lizards (lizard) that attained a high degree of adaptation to the marine environment and were distributed worldwide during the Cretaceous Period (144 million to 65 million years ago). The mosasaurs competed with other marine reptiles (reptile)—the plesiosaurs (plesiosaur) and ichthyosaurs (ichthyosaur)—for food, which consisted largely of ammonoids (ammonoid), fish, and cuttlefish. Many mosasaurs of the Late Cretaceous were large, exceeding 9 metres (30 feet) in length, but the most common forms were no larger than modern porpoises (porpoise).

      Mosasaurs had snakelike bodies with large skulls and long snouts. Their limbs were modified into paddles having shorter limb bones and more numerous finger and toe bones than those of their ancestors. The tail region of the body was long, and its end was slightly downcurved in a manner similar to that of the early ichthyosaurs. The backbone consisted of more than 100 vertebrae. The structure of the skull was very similar to that of the modern monitor lizards (monitor), to which mosasaurs are related. The jaws bore many conical, slightly recurved teeth set in individual sockets. The jawbones are notable in that they were jointed near mid-length (as in some of the advanced monitors) and connected in front by ligaments only. This arrangement enabled the animals not only to open the mouth by lowering the mandible but also to extend the lower jaws sideways while feeding on large prey.

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  • Mosasaur — Mos a*saur, Mosasaurian Mos a*sau ri*an, n. (Paleon.) One of an extinct order of reptiles, including {Mosasaurus} and allied genera. See {Mosasauria}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mosasaur — Mosasaurs Temporal range: Late Cretaceous …   Wikipedia

  • mosasaur — noun Etymology: New Latin Mosasaurus, from Latin Mosa the river Meuse + Greek sauros lizard Date: 1841 any of a family (Mosasauridae) of very large extinct marine fish eating lizards of the Upper Cretaceous with limbs modified into paddles that… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Mosasaur — Mosasauridae Mosasauridae …   Wikipédia en Français

  • mosasaur — noun An extinct marine reptile, in the family Mosasauridae; the ancestor of modern snakes …   Wiktionary

  • mosasaur — n. any of a type of now extinct fish lizards of the family Mosasauridae …   English contemporary dictionary

  • mosasaur — [ məʊzəsɔ:] noun a large fossil marine reptile with paddle like limbs and a long flattened tail. Origin C19: from mod. L. Mosasaurus, from L. Mosa, the river Meuse (near which it was first discovered) + Gk sauros lizard …   English new terms dictionary

  • mosasaur — mo·sa·saur …   English syllables

  • mosasaur — mo•sa•saur [[t]ˈmoʊ səˌsɔr[/t]] n. pal any of several extinct carnivorous marine lizards from the Cretaceous Period, having the limbs modified into broad, webbed paddles • Etymology: < NL Mosasaurus (1823) genus name = L Mosa the Muse river… …   From formal English to slang

  • mosasaur — ˈmōsəˌsȯ(ə)r noun ( s) Etymology: New Latin Mosasaurus : a reptile of the genus Mosasaurus or the family Mosasauridae …   Useful english dictionary

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