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Prince of Whales Or Heavyweight Champion? New Leviathan Found in Peruvian Desert.

IPhoto Credit: Alberto Gennari/Nature. in this artist illustration, Perucetus colossus is reconstructed in its coastal habitat, with an estimated body length of 20 metres

As every child who has ever visited the London museum of Natural History will know, the blue whale. which still swims in Earth’s oceans is the current titleholder for the heaviest heavyweight to ever exist — living or dead.

But now comes a contender from South America, a massive marine mammal that went extinct millions of years ago.

Fossils of this ancient whale’s bones recently dug up from the deserts of Peru suggest it may have weighed up to 340 metric tons, challenging the blue whale’s status as the all-time greatest in the animal kingdom and bigger than the biggest dinosaur that ever existed.

Scientists in Peru have announced a new contender for the heaviest mammal in Earth’s history.

While today’s blue whale has long held the title, researchers said on Wednesday that fossils of a creature unearthed in Peru called Perucetus colossus could tip the scales.

The early whale, which lived about 38-40 million years ago during the Eocene epoch, was built somewhat like a manatee and was likely about 20 metres (66ft) long.

It weighed up to 340 metric tonnes, a mass that would exceed any other known animal including today’s blue whale and the largest dinosaurs.

Its scientific name means “colossal Peruvian whale”.

“The main feature of this animal is certainly the extreme weight, which, judging by its massive bones,  suggests that evolution can generate organisms that have characteristics that go beyond our imagination,” said palaeontologist Giovanni Bianucci of the University of Pisa in Italy, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.

The minimum mass estimate for Perucetus was 85 tonnes, with an average estimate of 180 tonnes. The biggest-known blue whale weighed around 190 tonnes, though it was longer than Perucetus at 33.5 metres (110ft).

Argentinosaurus, a long-necked, four-legged herbivore that lived about 95 million years ago in Argentina and was ranked in a study published in May as the most massive dinosaur, was estimated at about 76 tonnes, so would have been dwarfed by the newly crowned Prince of Whales.

Source: Nature Magazine