Humongous Whale That Lived 40 Million Years Ago Discovered In Desert

By Bill Galluccio

August 3, 2023

Perucetus colossus
Photo: University of Pisa

A new study published in Nature claims that a massive whale discovered in the Peruvian desert is the heaviest animal to ever live.

The fossil was discovered over ten years ago in the Ica Desert, along the southern coast of Peru, and scientists have only recently classified it as a new species.

Researchers from the University of Pisa named the colossal whale Perucetus colossus and said it could have weighed upwards of 375 tons, making it heavier than blue whales and the Argentinosaurus, the largest dinosaur ever found. While the new species of whale was just 66 feet long, its bones were extremely dense. 

"It displays, to our knowledge, the highest degree of bone mass increase known to date, an adaptation associated with shallow diving. The estimated skeletal mass of P. colossus exceeds that of any known mammal or aquatic vertebrate," the researchers wrote.

The researchers estimated the whale lived off the coast of Peru around 40 million years ago when the stretch of desert was "a broad marine embayment" known as the Pisco Basin.

"Perucetus probably fed near the seabed, perhaps searching for the carcasses of other marine vertebrates as some large-bodied sharks do today," Alberto Collareta said in a press release.

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