For millions of years the Shastasaurus was the largest animal in the sea, and arguably one of if not the largest on Earth as well, at least in terms of weight. It is whale sized, although not blue whale sized, and was simply huge. It was an ichthyosaur which is dolphin looking but not related. It is not as famous as its jurassic world mosasaurus cousin, but deserves to be!. So we have these Shastasaurus Facts for you below.
The shastasaurus lived 235 to 205 million years ago, during the middle to late triassic, It was a carnivorous marine reptile that is considered to the largest marine reptile on Earth ever. It may have grown to 85 feet long, and weight as much as 150,000 lbs, as long as, and almost half the weight of a Blue Whale
We feel that for being the largest animal in the sea for 25 million years, and the largest ever marine reptile, the Shastasaurus doesn’t get the attention it deserves! it was massive, huge gargantuan, and with recent finds in The Swiss alps of a toothed ichthyosaur with 6 cm wide teeth its days with that title may be numbered.
(for note the wildest teeth of a ichthyosaur previously were 2 cm and that was from an 18m (60 ft ichthyosaur) so you can do the maths…
ok we will do the maths, although it doesn’t work out like this at all, the newly classified teeth are 3 times bigger, 3x 18 means 54 metres, that is over 160 feet…. it won’t be but still quite a thought! If for any reason this random maths does work out that ichthyosaur may challenge the blue whale for the title of largest ever animal on Earth.
However, sticking with the facts is what we are supposed to do here so we have what we do know about the Shastasaurus below with a printable fact sheet and a link to some marine reptile coloring pages too.
So let’s jump into our Shastasaurus facts before this Massive reptile, Not a dinosaur, loses its title as the largest ever marine reptile!
Shastasaurus Quick Facts
- The largest fossil of Shastasaurus found indicated it may have grown to 85 (26 meters) feet long, which rivals a blue whale in length!
- The weight of Shastasaurus was around 62,000 to 68,000 kg (130,000 to 150,000 pounds) for the larger fossil found by Paul Le Salle
- Shastasaurus although massive in size and the biggest marine reptile ever found, was not larger than a blue whale, though it may have come close in terms of length.
- The name Shastasaurus means “Mount Shasta Lizard” After a mountain in California.
- The Shastasaurus lived around 235 -205 million years ago during the middle to later triassic and possibly early jurassic period.
- Shastasaurus and other ichthyosaurs did not have gills. They breathed air and had to come up to the surface to breathe.
- Shastasaurus can be difficult to pronounce, It has a lot of S letters! . However it does only have four syllables and is said like this. shass – tah – Saw – Rus
How big was the Shastasaurus?
Although Shastasaurus was not a dinosaur, even a swimming dinosaur it was an ichthyosaur, it was truly massive in size. the largest fossil found indicated it may have grown to 85 (26 meters) feet long, which rivals a blue whale in length!
Other fossils have the length at 69 feet (21 meers) Although it was long it was relatively thin for an ocean marine reptile so its weight could not compare to a blue whale ( which are anything but thin) its weight is estimated at between 130,000 to 150,000 pounds. Still massive but half the weight of an average blue whale.
It is still however the largest known Marine reptile.
How heavy was the Shastasaurus?
The weight of Shastasaurus was around 62,000 to 68,000 kg (130,000 to 150,000 pounds) for the larger fossil found by Paul Le Salle found in England in 2016. The fossil was of the jawbone and they scaled up from there.
How long was the Shastasaurus?
The length of Shastasaurus was thought to be around 69 feet (21 metres) a massive animal. However the fossil discovered in lilstock in England in 016 was of a jawbone of a Shastasaurus and was about 25% bigger than any that had been found before it. When they scaled that up it gave a Shastasaurus a total length of up to 85 feet long (26 metres), comparable to an average blue whale.
How big was the Shastasaurus Head?
Depending where it would be measured to the Shastasaurus head would be 2-3 meters long (6-13 feet). It mouth had no teeth, an its head was quite short for an ichthyosaur. The fossil that was found was of a part of a jawbone and measured 3 feet long ( 96 cm)
Was The Shastasaurus Bigger than a blue whale?
Shastasaurus although massive in size and the biggest marine reptile ever found, was not larger than a blue whale, thought it may have come close in terms of length. It was slender for an ichthyosaur and would nto be as heavy as a blue whale. Its maximum weight is esitmated to be around 68,000 Kg or 150,000 pounds at the most where as a blue whale averages 330,000 lbs! or 149,000 kg
What was Shastasaurus Habitat?
The Shastasaurus lived around 235 -205 million years ago during the triassic and early jurassic period. It was a marine reptile and at the time most of Earths continents were much closer together than they are today. this meant ALOT of ocean for marine reptiles like Shastasaurus to swim around in. The earth was warmer which meant not much polar ice, and as the earth was warmer so were the oceans.
It may have lived with early plesiosaurs as their timelines over lap a little, but was about 120 million years to early to swim with mosasaurus.
Were Shastasaurus Dinosaurs related Whales.
Shastasaurus, and other ichthyosaurs are not related to whales. Whales are actually related to mammals like Pakicetus that evolved to live in the sea after the extinction of the dinosaurs about 50 million years ago. You can read more about those mammals here. It is actually quite surprising.
Did Shastasaurus Have Gills Like Fish?
Even though they look a lot like fish, and are very unlikely to be able to leave the water Shastasaurus and other ichthyosaurs did not have gills. They breathed air and had to come up to the surface to breathe.
How Fast Could the Shastasaurus Swim?
It has been suggested that the fastest any ichthyosaur could swim would be about 25 miles an hour (40 kmph!) when it needed too. However, most of the time they would be lazily swimming around at around 4-8 kilometers per hour. which is around 4 miles an hour.
Like most animals they only go fast when there is a need to do so, hunting or evading a predator.
What Did a Shastasaurus eat?
Scientists are still researching what a Shastasaurus would eat. Unlike most ichthyosaurs they had no teeth so it was thought they might not eat fish but eat soft body animals like squid or similar. however recent research has suggested this may be incorrect, and the question is still unanswered.
The biggest Ichthyosaur Ever?
6cm Wide ichthyosaur tooth Discovered in Swiss alps!
Interestingly in April 2022 a huge tooth 6cm wide, from an ichthyosaur was researched after being found in the Swiss alps over 40 years ago. It is almost 2.5 inches (6cm) wide at the root. This would have come from a MASSIVE ichthyosaur. It was found with fossils of ribs, and a backbone (vertebra) and the size of these means the ichthyosaur could have been over 20 metres long ( 65 feet). There were two specimens found in the Swiss alps, the other was thought to be around 15 meters (49 feet) long. they have been dated to 205 million years ago.
before this the largest width tooth from an ichthyosaur was jsut 2cm wide, and that ichthyosaur was 18 meters long. With these teeth being 6 cm wide it might suggest there was an Ichthyosaur even bigger than Shastasaurus, and one that had teeth!!!
it could also suggest that this ichthyosaur just has really big teeth too however.
What Movies Have Featured a Shastasaurus?
The movie Ice Age 2 The meltdown has an ichthyosaur featured in it, but other than that the only way to see one on TV are in dinosaur documentaries.
When Did the Shastasaurus become Extinct?
The Shastasaurus lived between 235 and 205 million years ago and was thought to go extinct towards the end of that period. However we have found relatively few fossils, as ichthyosaur fossils are are to discover, so it may have survived longer.
Could the Shastasaurus Swim?
Shastasaurus had evolved to swim and is classified as a Marine Reptile. It had a long tail, a streamlined body and was thought to be able to swim at around 4 miles an hour when cruising and much faster when it needed to.
What does the name Shastasaurus Mean?
The name Shastasaurus means “Mount Shasta Lizard” After a mountain in California.
Was Shastasaurus the largest Dinosaur?
Shastasaurus was not the largest dinosaur, however it is the largest know marine reptile. Reptiles that live in the sea evolved separately from dinosaurs and are not classed as them. With up to 85 feet length and 150,000 lbs in weight it was the largest marine reptile ever.
How many Teeth Did Shastasaurus have?
Shastasaurus has no teeth it is short ( for its size) mouth, though fossils have been found of a recent ichthyosaur that has large 6cm wide teeth in the Swiss alps that may have been the same size or even bigger!
Shastasaurus was a primitive ichthyosaur and scientists are not sure what its diet would have been.
Where were Shastasaurus discovered?
The fossils of Shastasaurus have been found in The united States, Canada and china so far and possibly the biggest one in the south of the united Kingdom.
When did Shastasaurus Live?
Shastasaurus fossils have been dated from 235 to 205 million years ago during the middle and late triassic.
Did Shastasaurus have a Dorsal Fin?
Shastasaurus was a very early Ichthyosaur and although drawings often give it a dorsal fin ( even ours!) It was probably too early to have evolved one, similarly its tail was likely less developed than later ichthyosaurs, however we have to work with the pictures we have! ( we cant draw at all here!)
Who discovered the Shastasaurus?
The first fossil finds are attributed to Merrimam in 1895, but other fossils have been found since then in 2000, 2004, and in 2016 by Paul la Salle who found the jaw bone that might indicate a huge Shastasaurus.
How to Pronounce Shastasaurus?
Shastasaurus can be difficult to pronounce, It has a lot of S letters! . However it does only have four syllables and is said like this. shass – tah – Saw – Rus
So hopefully the Shastasaurus manages to hang on to its title as largest marine reptile on earth for a few years later, though with the new discovery of 6 cm wide ichthyosaur teeth it isn’t looking good.
Even if it loses the title of largest Marine reptile ever it was still a massive and impressive reptile that dwarfs most other animals living in the sea or land. hopefully these Shastasaurus facts have been useful
Don’t forget to look over the rest of our dinosaur facts pages, our coloring and facts sheets are also free to download. We have popular dinosaurs Like Velociraptor and Allosaurus to some less well known ones that are appearing in the new Jurassic World dominion movies.
There are answers to common dinosaur questions, and loads of other cool dinosaur activities and resources to look at. Just check them out on the big button below.
Hi, I am Roy Ford a General Studies and English Teacher who has taught all over the world. What started as a fossil collection became a great way to teach, motivate and inspire students of all ages and all over the world about dinosaurs and from that and children’s love of dinosaurs came the site dinosaur facts for kids, a resource for all ages.