No, not Moby Dick. Scientists have recently discovered the fossilized remains of an ancient whale with huge, fearsome teeth, which they have dubbed Leviathan melvillei, in honor of Herman Melville. The 12 million old whale was slightly smaller than a modern sperm whale but had shark-like teeth half again as large as the conical teeth of modern sperm whales.
‘Sea monster’ whale fossil unearthed
Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists have dubbed the 12 million-year-old creature “Leviathan”.
It is thought to have been more than 17m long, and might have engaged in fierce battles with other giant sea creatures from the time.
Leviathan was much like the modern sperm whale in terms of size and appearance.
But that is where the similarity ends. While the sperm whale is a relatively passive animal, sucking in squid from the depths of the ocean, Leviathan was an aggressive predator.
According to Dr Christian de Muizon, director of the Natural History Museum in Paris, Leviathan could have hunted out and fed on large sea creatures such as dolphins, seals and even other whales.
“It was a kind of a sea monster,” he said.
“And it’s interesting to note that at the same time in the same waters was another monster, which was a giant shark about 15m long. It’s possible that they might have fought each other”.
The researchers speculate that Leviathan was able to feed on very large prey up to 8m long. It would catch the prey in its huge jaws and tear it apart quickly and effectively with its giant teeth.
Thanks to Julian Stockwin for tweeting about Melville’s Leviathan.