Leviathan melvillei

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Leviathan melvillei
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Class Mammalia
Sub-class Theriiformes
Infra-class Holotheria
Order Information
Superorder Preptotheria
Order Cetacea
Sub-order Odontoceti
Family Information
Superfamily Physeteroidea
Genus Information
Genus Leviathan
Species Information
Species L. melvillei
Population statistics
Conservation status Extinct

Leviathan melvillei is an extinct species of whale known from skull fragments recently found in Peru and described in the journal Nature[1] in June 2010.

Description

Leviathan melvillei remains were found in the Pisco-Ica desert area of southern Peru in 2008; they include skull, lower jaw, and teeth fragments. The teeth average 14 inches in length, more than double the length of its closest living relative, the sperm whale, and were set within both the upper and lower jaw (the sperm whale has teeth in the lower jaw only). A French paleontologist, Oliver Lambert, stated that "...the size of teeth, robustness of jaws and size of temporal fossa the bite of Leviathan must have been powerful, and he was likely able to tear pieces of meat from its prey like the modern killer whale."[2][3] The size of the skull - about 10 feet in length - have led scientists to conclude that L. melvillei approached 60 feet in length and routinely hunted other large whales. Such was the impact of the find that the whale was named for the sea monster of the Biblical book of Job, and American novelist Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick.

Although found with the remains of other whales, the few fragments of L. melvillei come from a single animal and are the only examples of its kind. They are currently on display at the Natural History Museum in Lima, Peru.

References

  1. http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100630/full/news.2010.322.html
  2. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/06/30/gigantic-prehistoric-whale-hunted-whales/?test=latestnews
  3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10461066.stm
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