Perucetus colossus, an ancient species of whale recently found in Peru, is believed to be one of the largest and heaviest animals on record. Estimates of its size and weight, based on a partial skeleton, rival those of the blue whale, which until now was considered the heaviest animal on record. The findings also suggest that the trend towards gigantism in marine mammals may have started earlier than previously thought.
Eli Amson, of the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, and his team describe a new basilosaurid whale with an estimated skeletal mass exceeding that of any known mammal or marine creature.
Named P. colossus, the animal has been modeled after a partial skeletonwhich includes 13 vertebrae, four ribs and a hip bone, discovered in southern Peru and estimated to be around 39 million years old.
It is considered that lThe mass of the skeleton would be two to three times that of a 25 meter long blue whale.details the magazine ‘Nature’ in a summary.
The authors estimate that P. colossus had a body mass of between 85 and 340 tons (the blue whale does not exceed 180 tons). “Since the estimated body mass equals or exceeds that of the blue whale, this new species would challenge the latter’s status as the heaviest animal that ever lived“, they point out.