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Tylosaurus was a mosasaur, a large, predatory marine lizard closely related to modern monitor lizards and to snakes. Along with plesiosaurs, sharks, fish, and other genera of mosasurs, it was a dominant predator of the Western Interior Seaway during the Late Cretaceous. Tylosaurus proriger was among the largest of all the mosasaurs (along with Hainosaurus and Mosasaurus hoffmannii), reaching maximum lengths of 15 meters or more (49+ ft). A distinguishing characteristic of Tylosaurus is its elongated, cylindrical premaxilla (snout) from which it takes its name and which may have been used to ram and stun prey and also in intraspecific combat. Stomach contents associated with specimens of Tylosaurus proriger indicate that this ferocious mosasaur had a varied diet, including fish, sharks, smaller mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and flightless diving birds such as Hesperornis. In some paleoenvironments, Tylosaurus seems to have preferred shallow, nearshore waters (as with the Eutaw Formation and Mooreville Chalk Formation of Alabama), while favoring deeper water farther out from shore in other environments (as with the Niobrara Chalk of the western U.S.).

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