The fossilised skull of a colossal whale with a killer bite has been uncovered by a team who reckon the monster shared the Miocene oceans with a giant shark.
The bones, dated to 12 to 13 million years ago, were spotted by Klaas Post of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in Peru’s Ica desert. In homage to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the beast has been named Leviathan melvillei.
The skull is a huge 3 metres long, says team member Olivier Lambert at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. The team estimates the whale would have been between 13 and 18 metres long, like a modern sperm whale.
What really surprised the researchers was 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,” Lambert says.