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39-million-year-old new species of whale is contender for heaviest animal ever

Still Waters

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Thirty-nine million years ago, a majestic sea potato for a whale was drifting along coastal habitats off Peru. Following the discovery of 13 vertebrae and a few ribs, researchers now estimate it may have been the heaviest animal ever to exist, topping even the gargantuan weight of living blue whales.

Gigantism became a big hit with mammals when they returned to the ocean, which is why we see so many absolute units among the cetaceans, a suborder of mammals that includes dolphins, whales, and porpoises. It seems a newly-described species took that adaptation one step further, becoming so vast that it’s estimated to have the greatest skeletal mass of any known sea creature or mammal.

The new species of whale that lived 39 million years ago has been named Perucetus colossus. Its name comes from its country of origin, Peru, the Latin for whale (cetus), and the Ancient Greek kolossós, meaning large statue – or in this case, flipping heavy whale.


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Like BLS data, I'll wait for the downward revision in 4-6 months.
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