When you think about the heaviest creatures in history, you might envision the age of the massive dinosaurs that once roamed the planet’s surface.
But dwelling deep down in the Earth’s oceans, the environment is perfect for allowing animals to get much larger than they could ever become on land. That’s where some experts believe the most enormous living being of all time once swam.
Now and then
In modern times, the heaviest animal is also aquatic. The blue whale can tip the scales at 190 metric tons!
But is it the biggest of all time? That’s been up for debate for years, and the discovery of some truly gargantuan fossils indicates that there was once a contender that would’ve dwarfed even the blue whale’s enormous size.
Researcher Alberto Collareta was on the team that unearthed the ancient bones during a dig in a Peruvian desert. Just one vertebra was the size of a boulder.
“I was in front of something unlike anything I had ever seen,” he explained, noting that he couldn’t figure out how something so immense could have even moved around when it was alive.
The long-extinct creature has been dubbed Perucetus colossus and has already sparked some fierce debate within the scientific community.
If it was truly as heavy as some experts believe — as much as 340 metric tons — then scientists will have to rethink how animals are able to grow. But there’s still some doubt that Perucetus colossus was actually bigger than modern-day blue whales.
That’s due in large part to the absence of a skull, which would provide lots of important clues about its size and how it managed to get so big.
Paleontologist Nick Pyenson suspects it wasn’t truly the biggest animal ever, but acknowledged: “Clearly, it is really big.”