Paleontologists Unveil Fossilized Remains of a 36-Million-Year-Old Ancient Whale Discovered in the Peruvian Desert - Media News 48

Paleontologists Unveil Fossilized Remains of a 36-Million-Year-Old Ancient Whale Discovered in the Peruvian Desert

Palaeontologists have unveiled the fossilised remains of an ancient whale that inhabited the seas 36 million years ago, found last year in a Peruvian desert.

“We have presented the new Peruvian basilosaurus, it is the complete skull of an archaic whale that lived 36 million years ago,” palaeontologist Mario Urbina, head of the team that discovered the skeleton, told AFP.

36-million-year-old whale fossil found in Peruvian desert | The Straits Times

Mr Urbina said the basilosaurus was found at the end of 2021 in the Ocucaje Desert in the Ica department, about 350km south of Lima. The desolate landscape was a shallow sea millions of years ago, and its dunes have yielded large numbers of striking primitive sea mammal remains.

Ancient whale found in Peru may be the heaviest animal ever | Science and Technology News | Al Jazeera

The “Ocucaje Predator”, as the researchers dubbed it, was about 17m long and used its massive, powerful teeth to feed on tuna, sharks and schools of sardines.

“This finding is very important because there are no other similar specimens discovered in the world,” said Mr Urbina, a researcher at the National University of San Marcos, in Lima.

Geologists fight for paleontological park in Peru desert where extraordinary fossils can be preserved | Daily Mail Online

Team member Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi explained that the basilosaurus differs from other known ancient whale species by its size and the development of its teeth, both of which indicate the animal was likely at the top of the food chain.

“This is an extraordinary find because of its great state of preservation,” he told AFP. “This animal was one of the largest predators of its time.

Wadi Al-Hitan “Valley of the Whales”, a natural world heritage site in Egypt has an intact fossil of an early whale - the Basilosaurus that's about 37-40 million years old. : r/interestingasfuck

“At that time the Peruvian sea was warm,” added Professor Salas-Gismondi, who heads the Department of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum in Lima. “Thanks to this type of fossil, we can reconstruct the history of the Peruvian sea.”

The first cetaceans, like the basilosaurus, evolved from land animals some 55 million years ago.

Wadi al-Hitan: 50 Million Years of Egypt | Egyptian Streets

By the late Eocene period (between 56 million and 34 million years ago), cetaceans had fully adapted to marine life.

Whales had not yet evolved, and almost all cetaceans were marine macropredators, according to the research team.

God of Death' Whale Was Scourge of Land and Sea 43 Million Years Ago | Smithsonian

The Ocucaje Desert is rich in fossils, the researchers said, providing scientists with 42 million years’ worth of evolutionary evidence.

Other fossils found there include four-legged dwarf whales, dolphins, sharks and other species from the Miocene period (between 23 million and five million years ago).

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