Does prehistoric “Moby Dick” sperm whale dethrone the mighty Predator X?
Forget about the satwater crocodile:
Forget about Sarcosuchus, the 30 foot long prehistoric SuperCroc:
Forget about today’s white sharks:
Forget about the prehistoric shark C. megalodon:
Forget about the mighty T-Rex:
When it comes to the Bad Dude of Bites, no creature that ever lived can match the mighty pliosaur called Predator X:
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.
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:
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:
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 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!