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July 2, 2010

A Whale of a… Whale

Happy Friday! Time for a brief break from the oil spill. And what better reason than for a really freakin’ cool prehistoric whale.

The great white shark is often considered one of the world’s greatest predators. At between 15-20 feet long it is no slouch, but it pales in comparison to the Leviathan melville, a recently discovered predatory whale that lived 13 million years ago.

Named after the mythical sea monster Leviathan and Moby Dick author Herman Melville, the Leviathan melvillei was probably close to 60 feet long. According to the fossils found in a Peruvian desert, which was once part of a great ocean, the teeth of the beast were over a foot long and almost half a foot wide.

The characteristics of the skull bones, jaw and teeth found by a team of paleontologists suggest that this giant predator likely ate smaller whales and other large sea mammals or fish. The Leviathan melvillei has been compared to our modern killer whales, except they were twice as big.

Check out some of the oceans’ modern giants, runts, and everything in between — and have a great holiday weekend!