1024px-Kaiwhekea katikiDB17

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

History of discovery[]

Kaiwhekea NT small


The type species, Kaiwhekea katiki, was first described by Arthur Cruickshank and Ewan Fordyce in 2002. Kaiwhekea was approximately 7 metres long and lived around 70-69 million years ago. The single known specimen, found in the Katiki Formation, 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

In popular culture[]

  • Kaiwhekea appeared in the video game Jurassic World: The Game.
  • Kaiwhekea appears in the video game Path of Titans as the first aquatic.


  1. (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. (2010) "Global interrelationships of Plesiosauria (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) and the pivotal role of taxon sampling in determining the outcome of phylogenetic analyses". Biological Reviews 85: 361–392. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2009.00107.x. PMID 20002391. 
  3. (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. DOI:10.1016/j.cretres.2016.11.014. 
  4. (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. PMID 27019781. 

External links[]