Kaiwhekea is an extinct genus of plesiosaur from the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian age) of what is now New Zealand.

Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 70–69 Ma
Kaiwhekea katikiDB17.jpg
Restoration with size comparison
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Plesiosauria
Family: Elasmosauridae
Clade: Aristonectinae
Genus: Kaiwhekea
Cruickshank & Fordyce, 2002
  • Kaiwhekea katiki Cruickshank & Fordyce, 2002 (type)

History of discoveryEdit


The type species, Kaiwhekea katiki, was first described by Arthur Cruickshank and Ewan Fordyce in 2002. Kaiwhekea was approximately 7 metres (23 ft) long and lived around 70-69 million years ago. The single known specimen, found in the Katiki Formation near Shag Point on the coast of Otago, is nearly complete, and is on display at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand.[1]


Kaiwhekea has been placed as an aristonectine plesiosaur close to Aristonectes (O'Keefe and Street, 2009). In 2010, Kaiwhekea was transferred to Leptocleididae,[2] but more recent analyses do not find the same result.[3]

The following cladogram shows the placement of Kaiwhekea within Elasmosauridae following an analysis by Rodrigo A. Otero, 2016:[4]

Restoration of the head

Eromangasaurus carinognathus

Callawayasaurus colombiensis

Libonectes morgani

Tuarangisaurus keyesi

Thalassomedon haningtoni

CM Zfr 115

Hydrotherosaurus alexandrae

Futabasaurus suzukii


Kaiwhekea katiki

Alexandronectes zealandiensis

Morturneria seymourensis

Aristonectes parvidens

Aristonectes quiriquinensis


Terminonatator pointeixensis

Elasmosaurus platyurus

Albertonectes vanderveldei

Styxosaurus sp. (="Hydralmosaurus serpentinus")

Styxosaurus snowii

Styxosaurus browni

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cruickshank, Arthur R.I.; Fordyce, R. Ewan (2002). "A new marine reptile (Sauropterygia) from New Zealand: further evidence for a Late Cretaceous austral radiation of cryptoclidid plesiosaurs". Palaeontology. 45 (3): 557–575. doi:10.1111/1475-4983.00249.
  2. ^ Ketchum, H. F.; Benson, R. B. J. (2010). "Global interrelationships of Plesiosauria (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) and the pivotal role of taxon sampling in determining the outcome of phylogenetic analyses". Biological Reviews. 85 (2): 361–392. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2009.00107.x. PMID 20002391.
  3. ^ O'Gorman, J.P.; Otero, R.A.; Hiller, N.; Simes, J.; Terezow, M. (2016). "Redescription of Tuarangisaurus keyesi (Sauropterygia; Elasmosauridae), a key species from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Weddellian Province: Internal skull anatomy and phylogenetic position". Cretaceous Research. 71: 118–136. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2016.11.014.
  4. ^ Otero, R. A. (2016). "Taxonomic reassessment of Hydralmosaurus as Styxosaurus: new insights on the elasmosaurid neck evolution throughout the Cretaceous". PeerJ. 4: e1777. doi:10.7717/peerj.1777. PMC 4806632. PMID 27019781.

External linksEdit