Prehistoric Hyper-carnivorous Whale?!
by Sid Perkins, Science News
What would you get if you crossed a whale with a shark? Maybe something like Leviathan melvillei, a long-extinct, hypercarnivorous whale with teeth longer than any T. rex ever had.
L. melvillei — a newly described sperm whale named to honor Herman Melville, author of the whaling novel Moby-Dick — lived between 12 million and 13 million years ago, says Olivier Lambert, a vertebrate paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. The aptly named leviathan is known only from remains of a jawbone and skull, which is about 75 percent complete, Lambert and his colleagues note in the July 1 (2010) Nature.
By comparing those fossils, which were found in southern Peru in November 2008, with more complete remains of other species, the researchers estimate that Leviathan measured between 44 and 57 feet in length, slightly smaller than adult male sperm whales of today. The longest of Leviathan’s teeth measure about 14 inches including the root, more than 40 percent longer than those of today’s sperm whales. And, Lambert notes, the longest tooth of Sue, one of the largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimens yet found, measures only 10.6 inches from root to tip…
(read more: Wired Science) (image: C. Letenneur (MNHN))