Scientists have unearthed fossils of a new species named “Perucetus colossus” or “the colossal whale from Peru,” which could potentially challenge the blue whale’s title as the heaviest animal to have ever lived. This remarkable discovery was described in the journal Nature, revealing bones of an ancient giant that could be a strong contender for the heavyweight record.
The fossils, discovered by Mario Urbina from the University of San Marcos’ Natural History Museum in Lima over a decade ago, were found in the Ica desert in Peru. This region, once underwater, has proven to be a treasure trove of marine fossils. An international team spent years carefully extracting the remains from the side of a steep, rocky slope.
The findings include 13 vertebrae from the colossal whale’s backbone, four ribs, and a hip bone. Each vertebra weighs over 100 kilograms, and the ribs measure nearly 1.4 meters long. These immense fossils, estimated to be around 39 million years old, have astounded researchers, leaving them in awe of the size and uniqueness of the ancient creature.
Alberto Collareta, a paleontologist at Italy’s University of Pisa and one of the study’s authors, expressed his excitement at finding such an extraordinary animal that stands out from anything known previously. While the blue whale has long been recognized as the heaviest animal in modern times, the discovery of the colossal whale from Peru raises intriguing questions about the diversity and size of ancient marine life.
This groundbreaking research adds new dimensions to our understanding of prehistoric marine ecosystems and the extraordinary creatures that once roamed the Earth’s oceans. As scientists continue to study and analyze these fossils, more insights are expected to emerge about the colossal whale and its significance in the ancient natural world.