On Wednesday, scientists presented at an exhibition at the natural history museum Museo de Historia Natural in Lima, unearthed in the desert of Peru, the fossilized remains of the whale Perucetus colossus. In their opinion, it may be the heaviest animal that has ever lived on our planet.
Perucetus colossus lived about 38-40 million years ago in the Eocene epoch. In 2018, 13 vertebrae of this animal were found in the Desierto De Ica desert, as well as four ribs and one hip bone. It was on their basis that the size and weight were estimated. The calculations of scientists show that the minimum body weight of a whale Perucetus colossus was 85 tons, and the average body weight was 180 tons. The discoverers estimate that it could have weighed up to 340 tons. They published their research results in the journal “Nature”.
“I’ve never seen anything like it”
When Alberto Collareta, one of the authors of the publication, looked at the boulder-sized circles for the first time, he couldn’t believe what he saw. He wondered how such a large creature could move.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Collareta, a scientist at the University of Pisa. According to the expert, this discovery forces paleontologists to reconsider ideas about how animals can grow to such gigantic sizes.
Some researchers are skeptical
Not all scientists are convinced that this whale, although undoubtedly huge, is the most massive animal that has ever lived on our planet. As some scholars note, its size was estimated based on only part of the skeleton, and that without the skull.
“I don’t think we know enough about this group of whales,” said Nick Pyenson, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution. “I’m very skeptical about these high-end estimates,” he added.
washingtonpost.com, Reuters, nature.com
Main photo source: Reuters