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Guinness Book of Records: Newly discovered whale that lived nearly 40 million years ago found in Peru weighted 190 tons

A newly discovered whale that lived nearly 40 million years ago could be the heaviest animal to have ever lived, based on a partial skeleton found in Peru, scientists said Wednesday. The modern blue whale has long been considered the largest and heaviest animal of all time, besting all the giant dinosaurs of the ancient past.

But Perucetus colossus the colossal whale from Peru may have been even heavier, according to a study published in the journal Nature. Extrapolating from some massive bones found in the Peruvian desert, an international team of researchers estimated that the animal had an average body weight of 180 tons.

That alone wouldn’t take the heavyweight title. The largest recorded blue whale weighed 190 tons, according to the Guinness Book of Records. scientists have estimated the weight of the ancient whale to have been between 85 and 340 tonnes, meaning it could have been considerably larger.

The first fossil of an ancient whale was discovered back in 2010 by Mario Urbina, a paleontologist who spent decades searching the desert on the southern coast of Peru. “There is no record of the existence of such a big animal, it’s the first and that’s why nobody believed me when we discovered it,” Urbina said in Lima.

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According to the researcher, the discovery “will raise more questions than answers and give other paleontologists a lot to talk about.”

The remains were first presented to the public at a press conference at the Natural History Museum in the Peruvian capital, where they are on display. Scientists estimate that the animal reached a length of about 20 meters (65 feet).

Rewriting the history of cetaceans whale

Scientists were careful not to announce that the ancient whale had broken the record. But there was also “no reason to think this specimen was the largest of its kind,” study co-author Eli Amson told AFP.

“I think there is a good chance that some individuals have broken the record – but the message is that we are in the blue whale’s playground,” said Amson, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart. Germany.

A total of 13 gigantic vertebrae were found at the site – one of which weighed almost 200 kilograms (440 pounds), as well as four ribs and a hip bone. It took years and several trips to collect and prepare the giant fossils, and even longer before a team of Peruvian and European researchers confirmed exactly what they found.

On Wednesday, they revealed it was a new species of basilosaurid, an extinct family of cetaceans. Today’s cetaceans include dolphins, whales and porpoises, but their early ancestors lived on land, some resembling small deer. Over time, they moved into the water, and basilosaurids are believed to be the first cetaceans to have a fully aquatic lifestyle.

One of their adaptations at the time was gigantism they became very large. But the new discovery suggests cetaceans reached their maximum body mass about 30 million years earlier than previously thought, the study said.

Small head, heavy bones

Like other basilosaurids, Perucetus colossus probably had a “ridiculously small” head compared to its body, Amson said, although there are no available bones to confirm this.

Without teeth, it was impossible to say for sure what they ate. But Amson speculated that scavenging from the sea floor was a strong possibility, in part because the animals couldn’t swim fast. Scientists were convinced that the animal lived in shallow waters in coastal environments because of the strange weight of its bones.

Its entire skeleton was estimated to weigh between five and seven tons – more than twice as heavy as that of a blue whale. “This is—certainly—the heaviest skeleton of any mammal yet known,” Amson said.

Perucetus colossus needed heavy bones to compensate for the huge amount of buoyant fat and air in its lungs that would otherwise send it to the surface. But just the right balance of bone density and fat allowed the giant animal to stay in the middle of about 10 meters (33 feet) of water “without moving a muscle,” Amson explained.

Felix Marx, a marine mammal expert at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, who was not involved in the study, told that the Perucetus colossus “is very different from anything else we’ve ever found”.

He warned that the extinct sea cows had heavier bones than would be expected for their total body mass, potentially indicating that Perucetus colossus could be at the lower end of the estimated mass range.

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