Whale That Lived Almost 40 Million Years Ago Could Be “Heaviest Animal Ever” Experts Say

(Daily360.com) – For as long as these things have been measured researchers have said the largest animal to have lived on Earth is the current day blue whale. However, the blue whale may soon find itself down in second place. 

Fossil remains found in Peru are so enormous they paint a picture of what would be largest animal yet discovered. It’s being called Perucetus colossus, which when translated is “the colossal whale from Peru.” The practically names remains include vertebra which weigh over 200 pounds each and rib bones which measure almost 5 feet in length each.

Paleontologist Hans Thewissen of Northeast Ohio Medical University shared his excitement of what he calls a “giant animal” which is unlike anything he’s ever seen before. The remains were discovered a decade ago and experts have been working to excavate them ever since. They were found within a steep rock-filled slope from the Ica desert; this region of Peru used to be under water and has been providing researchers with a vast amount of marine fossils.

Through dating methods, experts believe this whale likely lived around 39 million years ago. They have 13 vertebrae, one hip bone, and four ribs. Researchers used 3D techniques and drilling into the fragments to estimate the size the animal reached prior to its death. They suspect the whale weighed between 94 and 375 tons. By comparison, the largest blue whales of the modern age weight in at around 200 tons. 

Researchers think the creature may have reached a length of 66 feet. The modern blue whale can measure longer, sometimes reaching 100 feet. So, while the Perucetus colossus may not have been the longest animal on Earth, it was likely the heaviest. 

The Perucetus colossus’ bone density was much higher than the modern blue whale based on these fossils. Without finding the head researchers can’t solidly say what the animal ate but based on the bones, they speculate it was likely a scavenger who swam along the ocean floor. But based on the uniqueness of the bones, Thewissen offers the idea that it may have fed in a way scientists of today may not be able to comprehend or theorize.         

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