Thursday, July 1, 2010

A new giant sperm whale

C. Letenneur / Natural History Museum
An artistic rendition of monster whale Leviathan Melvillei attacking a smaller baleen whale

A report is out concerning a new giant sperm whale species, Leviathan melvillei, (after Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick) from the Middle Miocene (approximately 12–13 million years ago). This "beast" featured a 3 m long head and had teeth in both jaws(unlike the modern day sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, which only has functional teeth in the lower jaw). The teeth had a maximum length of 36 cm and are the largest cetacean teeth ever discovered. It is proposed that Leviathan fed mostly on medium-size dbaleen whales. (ref. Nature). Although there is no chance of seeing a living Levianthan melvillei we feel happy that its less harmful relative (that targets mostly cephalopods), Physeter macrocephalus, is going strong.

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