Fearsome Moby Dick whale packed a mean bite 13 mln years agoJuly 1st, 2010 - 1:56 pm ICT by ANI
London, July 1 (ANI): Researchers have discovered the fossilised skull of a mighty whale with a killer bite. According to the team, the beast could have shared the Miocene oceans with a giant shark.
Klaas Post of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, the Netherlands, came across the sea monster’s bones in Peru’s Ica desert. These bones are nearly 12 to 13 million years old.
The giant whale, whose skull is 3 metres long, has now been named Leviathan melvillei after Moby Dick author Herman Melville.
The research team believes the animal would have been between 13 and 18 metres long, like a modern sperm whale.
However, the researchers were most surprised when they took a look at the size of the whale’s teeth.
“Some of the biggest ones are 36 centimetres long and 12 centimetres wide, and are probably the biggest predatory teeth ever discovered,” The New Scientist quoted team member Olivier Lambert, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, as saying.
While the modern-day sperm whale feeds by suction, the giant whale could boast of these massive teeth on both its upper and lower jaw.
Lambert said: “We think the whale used these teeth to catch its prey.
“The whale would certainly have been able to catch very large prey, like baleen whales, of which there were plenty in the locality. We think it was feeding on medium-sized baleen whales, which were about 8 or 9 metres long.”
He also believes the whale fed in a similar way to modern killer whales.
Leviathan melvillei is thought to have shared the waters of the ocean with the giant shark Carcharocles megalodon, whose fossils have been uncovered in the same locality in Peru.
Lambert and colleagues believe the shark was nearly 15 metres long - more or less the same size as the giant sperm whale.
But it’s quite unlikely that the two giants would have battled each other, according to Lambert.
He said: “At such sizes, I think it would have been very dangerous for adults of both species to fight. I could more easily imagine an adult of one species attacking a juvenile of the other.”
The research appears in the journal Nature. (ANI)
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Tags: author herman melville, baleen whales, carcharocles megalodon, fossils, giant sperm whale, herman melville, killer whales, locality, lower jaw, massive teeth, million years, moby dick, natural sciences, natuurhistorisch museum rotterdam, new scientist, prey, sea monster, skull, Sperm Whale, team member