Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jaws vs Jaws

If you're a modern writer, or reader for that matter, it's highly likely you've read Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The title whale is a monstrous beast and ultimately kills the entire crew of the ship pursuing it with the exception of the narrator.

Moby Dick would be a meal for Leviathan melvillei.

Leviathan melvillei is an extinct toothed whale that looks a fair amount like the sperm whale but with a significantly larger jaw and enormous teeth. A normal sperm whale's tooth can range from six to twelve inches. Leviathan's teeth were twice that.

Further, the dentition of a modern sperm whale has teeth only on the lower jaw. Sperm whales more suck in their prey than bite and shred them. But Leviathan's dentition interlocks like cats or dogs and shows them to be functional predator teeth. Leviathan was fully capable of finding another whale, say a sei whale or a minke, and tear it apart.

Leviathan lived about 12-13 million years ago-- coexisting with Megalodon, a enormous extinct shark resembling a Great White writ large.

Megalodon looks to be about 20 meters in size. Leviathan is estimated to be as much as 17 meters. It is not known if they were competitors. However, I can imagine them meeting each other would be true clash of the titans.

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?-- Job 41:1

Scientific American
Nature, editorial
Science News
Nature, original article

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