Does prehistoric “Moby Dick” sperm whale dethrone the mighty Predator X?

Forget about the satwater crocodile:

Mature male saltwater crocs can be 6 metres (20 ft) or more and weigh 1,300 kilograms (2,900 lb) or larger

Forget about Sarcosuchus, the 30 foot long prehistoric SuperCroc:

Sarcosuchus model

Forget about today’s white sharks:

Great White Sharks have exceeded 6 metres (20 ft) in length and 2,240 kilograms (4,938 lb)

Forget about the prehistoric shark C. megalodon:

Model of C. megalodon shark's head

Every diver's worst nightmare

Forget about the mighty T-Rex:

T-rex is probably still the king of bite of land animals who have lived, although Deinosuchus, an extinct alligator, may have had a stronger bite

When it comes to the Bad Dude of Bites, no creature that ever lived can match the mighty pliosaur called Predator X:

Predator X attacking a plesiosaur

Thought to have a bite 11 times as strong as that of Tyrannosaurus rex, Predator X (a new kind of pliosaur) bit down with a calculated power of over 15 tons or 33,000 pounds of bite force.  By comparison, today’s alligators, which have the strongest known bite of any animal, crush down with “only” 2,500 pounds of bite force.  Predator X was at least 50 feet long and would have weighed more than 45 tons.

Predator X (bottom) compared to a blue whale, the largest animal that's ever lived, and a modern orca, or killer whale

Surely, Predator X was the mightiest predator that ever lived—or was it?

A recent fossil discovery in Peru by paleontologists may mean the mighty Predator X has been deposed from its throne—or at least, met its match.  The new contender is a prehistoric sperm whale that lived about 12 million years ago.  The paleontologists that discovered it have named it Leviathan melvillei, in honor of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick.  The jaws and teeth of this prehistoric sperm whale might have given even mad Captain Ahab pause:

Leviathan melvillei probably hunted baleen whales

Super Moby Dick

Leviathan melvillei, an ancestor of sperm whales, grew up to 60 feet long—comparable to today’s biggest sperm whales.  What sets it apart from today’s sperm whales is that its mouth was more like that of a modern orca, or killer whale, with upper and lower teeth.  The sperm whale only has lower teeth, which fit into sockets in the top of its mouth:

Sperm whales only have lower teeth which fit into upper sockets

The killer whale has both lower and upper teeth, but they do not interlock for shearing like the teeth of Leviathan melvillei do

The mouth of Leviathan melvillei had interlocking teeth that sheared past each others.  Clearly, Leviathan melvillei’s teeth and jaws were designed to rip and tear huge chunks of flesh out of other whales and probably large sharks as well.

Consider this: Leviathan melvillei lived at the same time that C. megalodon lived.  Both were top predators. One can only imagine what a confrontation between those two monsters was like!  With such formidable teeth, no doubt, whoever struck first was the victor.

Leviathan melvillei's teeth were 4 inches longer than this 10-inch T-rex tooth!

Leviathan melvillei’s  tusk-like teeth were about 36 centimeters (14 inches) long, almost twice the length of modern sperm whales. In comparison, the longest T-rex tooth  measures about 27  centimeters, a little over 10 inches from root to tip.  It’s longer and bigger around than Predator X’s 12 inch teeth. Imagine a tooth as long and big around as a man’s forearm!

Scientists believe the typical prey of the Leviathan melvillei would have been baleen whales  that were 20 to 25 feet in length.  The jaws, teeth, and muscles of Leviathan melvillei would have needed to incredibly strong and powerful to withstand the stress of struggling prey of this size.

“This is a pretty exciting discovery,” says Erich Fitzgerald, a vertebrate paleontologist at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Leviathan represents “one thing we don’t have in the oceans today — a macropredator, a hypercarnivorous whale.”

So, who gets your vote for the top predator of all time?  The super sperm whale, Leviathan melvillei?  Or is Predator X still the king?  In either case, these are the greatest jaws of all time.

Extra! Extra! Read all about in tomorrow Exreme Science post! C. megalodon mega-shark demands rematch with old nemesis Predator X. Says newly discovered “Moby Dick” sperm whale is all tooth and no bite! Read all about it in tomorrow’s post!

Go to: Megalodon Shark Demands Rematch with Predator X and “Moby Dick” Sperm Whale!

♥♥♥

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Comments
21 Responses to “Does prehistoric “Moby Dick” sperm whale dethrone the mighty Predator X?”
  1. David M says:

    You know, your numbers don’t match up with what I found on Wikipedia. You are selling Megalodon short. According to Wikipedia, the latest estimates of Megalodon are that it had a size of about 20 meters and a mass of about 100 metric tons. The bite force was about 41,000 lbf, which leaves Predator X in the dust at 33,000 lbf. It was more massive than Predator X, had a more powerful bite, had serrated teeth which were perfect for slicing, and basically never ran out of teeth.

    In other words, megalodon would likely have whupped both Predator X and this new sperm whale if they had co-existed. It probably fed on blue whales and other large whales.

    • Hey David! Your great comment prompted me to dig deeper into the subject and inspired a follow-up post. Take a look at:

      https://goodheartextremescience.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/megalodon-shark-demands-rematch-with-predator-x-and-moby-dick-sperm-whale/

      I discuss these figures, the bite force issue, as well as the size issues for old C. megalodon. As to whether it could have “whupped” either of them, well, that’s open to debate. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the follow-up post, and thanks for stopping by here.

      With best wishes,
      Steve

    • nate says:

      i beg to differ. The established estimates for megalodon’s bite force is anywhere between 10.2 to 18.5. Given those two estimates it’s safe to assume that it’s bite force was between 15 and 16 tons of force if you average it out. Considering the primarily cartiledge make up of a sharks body, versus the tough sturdy skeleton of predator x, a 15 ton bite force will inflict more damage per bite on a soft bodied shark then a predator x. As they were both 50 to 60 ft long, fast agile ambush predators, the only edge where one of them succeeds is in body physiology. In short, predator X comes out on top.

      • Lennox says:

        But predator x had easy vulnarable flippers while megalodon was a little less vulnarable fins.Also they didn’nt coexist as megalodon lived in a period before the dinosaurs and predator x lived in the Jurrassic period.This new prehistoric sperm whale lived in the same period as magolodon.But no prehistoric has ever dominated the planet by ruling all the water on the planet or comes close to the power of the cretacious period Mosasaur!

  2. Big Al says:

    The biggest carnivorouspredator of all time is BALAENOPTERA MUSCULUS AKA BLUE WHALE, got it? 🙂
    It eats krill (krill=animals), so its a carnivore 😉
    VERY VERY few species would dare 2 attack a 30 m b. musculus

    PS
    U should stop callin it “Megalodon”. Megalodon is its species name: do u call spinosaurus “aegyptiacus”? 😉
    PS2
    Genus Leviathan is actually preoccupied: its a junior synonym of Mammut
    http://svpow.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/is-the-new-miocen-sperm-whale-leviathan-validly-named/

    • Hey Big Al! Loved your comments.

      Yes, you are right, the biggest predator of all time was indeed the mighty blue whale. But the “baddest?” As much as I respect this wonderful beast, no way! 🙂

      Be sure to check out an earlier post I did on this amazing animal:

      https://goodheartextremescience.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/the-largest-animal-thats-ever-lived/

      As for what to call the big shark, actually, lots of books, even some science ones use “Megalodon” as a kind of short-hand for the beast, and even an affectionate nickname of “Meg.” 🙂 I thought about your comment, though, and decided to use the term C. megalodon when talking about the beast, as this is the more accurate name, and if people use Wikipedia, they will find it talked about there as C. megalodon. I’ve edited to conform to this decision.

      As to whether the C. stands for Carcharodon or Carcharocles, I land in the mako shark ancestor camp. 🙂

      As to whether the scientists goofed in naming the beast Leviathan melvillei, I’ll leave that for them to sort out. 🙂 That’s the name given in all the news releases and papers I read, and it’s good enough for me for the purposes of my blog.

      It’s great having someone so knowledgeable commenting, so thanks for stopping by. Oh, and don’t miss my follow-up post today:

      https://goodheartextremescience.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/megalodon-shark-demands-rematch-with-predator-x-and-moby-dick-sperm-whale/

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you won’t want to weigh in on this one as well! LOL! Enjoy.

      Steve

  3. Fabrizio says:

    Im Big Al, my real name is Fabrizio, so i will use it
    Thanks 4 lovin my comments

    -Bout da baddest thing: yes, i know b. musculus isnt as aggressive as any lamnid species. But “badasseness” is a therm we dont need, imo. Dats stuff 4 hollywood
    If we were krill, we’d defintitively say “OMG! A terrible blue whale is near! Lets run 4 our lives”. From the point of view of krill, mysticetes r waaay more dangerous and lethal dan any shark (except felter-feeders like cetorhinus and megachasma). Also, blue whales kills 40 MILLION krill in a DAY. I doubt carcharocles and leviathan killed 40 million pinnipeds, cetaceans, fishes and turtles ANY DAY. From this pov, balaenoptera kills way more victims than carcharocles and leviathan do XD (I know, it could seem a weird thought, but i think
    -Bout da Carcharocles/Charcharodon thing: so u support Carcharocles, dont u? All recent research (except da wroes bout its bite force u talked bout in today post) use carcharocles. Dats good
    -Yes, i know any livin bein does use da genus leviathan 4 da cetacean, but i dont like leviathan cuz
    1)It will make confusion with da ORIGINAL leviathan portrayed in da Bible: dey could have named it leviathanUS or leviathanIS. Leviathanus is still good. Me too will keep callin it leviathan, just i hope they will change its genus name soon
    2)In my opinion, da only species dat is worthy of bein called Leviathan or somethin like dat is b. musculus (or da currently unknown largest species of all time. I dont really think blue whale is da biggest animal EVA lived). I think leviathan should not reflect “badassenes” but just mere size. Size, nothin more. If i called a species leviathan, itll defintitively be da blue whale

  4. Ted says:

    You forget the Monster of Aramberri.

    This is a pliosaur found in 2002, in mexico, porrly preserved but estimated to have been between 15 and 18 m long.

    The german scientits stated it wasn’t full grown , and even a juvenile yet !

    More than this, it seems to have been killed by a bigger guys, probably an adulthood of its kind.

    A mark on the skull of the youngster would indicate a one yard long tooth (with the crown), stating a possible 30 m monster.

    Source :

    http://www.focus.de/wissen/wissenschaft/saurier-das-monster-von-aramberri_aid_202001.html

    Traduce this

    • Holy cow, what a huge beast! And a juvenile! I will have to look into to this. The scientists that found Predator X did mention that there was a longer pliosaur than their big fellow, but I got the impression they felt their find was somehow more massive. Who knows what may yet be found?

      I’ll definitely take look at your link and what I can find out about that species, and see about updating the post. At the very least, your great comment will be here to point readers to further information.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Best wishes,
      Steve

  5. Ted says:

    You welcome for the source.

    You can try to contact Dr Dino Frey about this.

    He wrote me that on his blog (not yet active)

    “Well there is a bite mark with a diameter of 60 mm in the horizontal branch of a 350 mm pteroid. The tooth penetrated from dorsally meaning that the crown alone must have had a length of about 400 mm. Then comes a root which is normally about two thirds the length of a pliosaur tooth and then you just must find the bones to accommodate the ting and do a bit of calculation. So much for the possible five metres. Concerning a pedomorphy I see no evidence from the material. The Svalbard pliosaur is also a huge thing, but our preparation is in progress, but we have contact to the Svalbard group and thus we must wait until rock is separated from bone….”

    “since we had in in the media it was referred to as Liopleurodon mostly. Kronosaurus is new. I will put up a post soon with detailed data about what we know and for the moment we know only a little because about 75% of the 14 tons are still unprepared, and that what is out of the matrix is in Linares and not here. So I cannot even provide the lateset immages of the thing. I would like to be cautious with any taxonomy for the moment. Each block yields more huge bones. So much is sure, however, there was a kronosaurid around in Mexico during Late Jurassic times. The problem is that the specimen with the best skull of Kronosaurus ever in the Queensland Museum in Australia is pending description since several years – and the claim is still blocked.

    Concerning the size and the traces and signs we have, the largest pliosaurs probably exceeded 25 metres in length. Their jaws were powerful enough to bite through a complete skull of another pliosaur and their huge temporal openings indicate a tremendous muscle mass to power the jaws. Thus, the Mesozoic was not the time to invent boats. Ichthyosaurs and crocs come up with predators, which reached a length between 15 an 20 metres, and, finally, Zeuglodon and the sperm whale are known to exceed 20 metres in length. Mosasaurs come up to 15 metres, which is also not bad. The follows the shark Carcharias megalodon, Dunkleosteus etc.”

    Unfortunaly, it seems that this pliosaur is really poorly preserved, but it’s definitely among the largest predators known.

    I’ve contacted one of the discoverers of the Predator X and he said me that the Monster of Aramberri was less maccive than their Predator X and not a juvenile, talking about pedomorphy.

    But I’ve read in another source that some parts of Predator X seem to be relatively slender, whereas some other parts of the body are massive.

    Concerning a pedomorphy, Dino Frey doesn’t believe to this.
    Again, the mark tooth proves that there was a much larger monster in these waters, so…

    Concerning Leviathan, I think it could be the ultimate predator yeas, because they found just one individual and this one is between 14 and 18 m long. But they just have the skull, and who knows if it was a big individual, a small one, a female (which can be much smaller than bulls)or a old male ?

    Concerning the huge teeth, yeah they re big but how many was put into the mandible of the jaw ?
    The important is how big was the part of the teeth that were visible, not the rooth which can be massive to some cetaceans species.

  6. Cindy says:

    Hi there, you mentioned about the longest T-Rex tooth…just thought I would let you know about “Sue”. She is the largest and most complete T-Rex ever found, and her largest tooth is 12 inches long and if I remember correctly, her skeleton is over 90% complete, including some bones that had never before been found in a T-Rex discovery. It is not known whether “Sue” is male or female, but the T-Rex was named after the woman who found her – Sue Hendrickson. She is over 40 feet long from nose to tip of her tail, and over 13 feet from her hip to the ground. The Field Museum in Chicago bought her fossil at auction (it’s quite the story to read as there was a custody battle over her – that’s how I first found out about her) and have the original bones on display and mounted in such a way as to have done no damage to the skeleton. I live in Canada, but was so fascinated by the story and discovery of her, that I had to see her for myself, and consequently, several years ago went to the Field Museum to see her. She is truly an incredible sight to behold! Her original head is on display upstairs as it was too heavy to mount with the skeleton – over 500 lbs I think. At any rate, she is really something special and I’m sure if you went to the Field Museum’s website, you could have a look at her and find out other information if you’re interested. Thanks for the information in here…it is really interesting to read the posts. By the way….you mentioned that the largest predator of all time “was” the blue whale…although blue whales several years ago were thought to be extinct or close to it, they are, thankfully, still with us and not extinct, so not to be picky or anything…lol…it should be in the present tense. Thanks again :-))

  7. Carter says:

    Awsome

  8. Sheheryar says:

    About the predator x vs leviathan debate, I believe the pliosaur would be the victor if it’s above 45 feet in length as it would have 4 vulnerable flippers while the whale had only two! So if whale managed to rip off one of the flippers predator x would still have three left! Also, predator x was more maneuverable in water which may be the key to success.

    What do you think!

  9. jerry huang says:

    Leviathan is bigger and probably more powerful bite force. It also has sonar, which could hit down the pliosaur or at least stun it. Its large head ,which could use speed bump and knock it out. but I just think leviathan wins

  10. Leviathan melvillei could easily take a meg. for one thing it is a mammal. it is a lot smarter than meg which is a fish.

  11. Kristopher Mellon says:

    You all forget that livyatan was a pack hunter like modern day orcas. There would never be a one on one matchup against megalodon or predator x. The pack of livyatan so would literally smash or bite these other predators to death as they were solitary hunters.

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