Thursday, July 1, 2010
Scientists say they've discovered the skull of an ancient whale — and they've named it after Herman Melville, the author of "Moby Dick."
The prehistoric sperm whale grew to up to 60 feet long, but unlike modern sperm whales it had vicious, tusk-like teeth about 14 inches long.
In tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature, researchers say the whale evidently dined on other whales about 12 million years ago. They report finding the skull in a Peruvian desert.
One expert, not involved in the discovery, says scattered finds of huge fossilized teeth have long hinted at the whale's existence. But without the skull, details of the beast remained a mystery.