Context: Scientists have described a new contender for the heaviest animal ever to live, named Perucetus colossus or “the colossal whale from Peru.”
- Fossils of this ancient giant were discovered in the Ica desert in Peru, and researchers estimate that it lived around 39 million years ago.
- This prehistoric whale weighed between 94 and 375 tons (85 and 340 metric tons), making it potentially heavier than the largest blue whales, which typically weigh around 200 tons (180 metric tons).
- One reason for its higher weight is its dense and heavy bones compared to those of modern blue whales. This density suggests that the ancient whale may have lived in shallow coastal waters, similar to other coastal dwellers like manatees.
Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. The sperm whale is the largest-toothed predator on Earth. The Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus, is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM.