Excavation in Peru’s Ocucaje Desert has yielded a massive find for paleontologists, who are thrilled about their find. It’s the whole skull of an archaic whale, and it’s a fascinating piece of history. These sea monsters had previously reigned supreme at the pinnacle of the ancient food chain. This prehistoric whale progenitor had a body mass that was similar to that of a city bus. This predator was also well-known for being one of the most lethal predators in its environment.
Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi, head of paleontology at Peru’s National University of San Marcos (UNMSM), offered his thoughts on the discovery at a fossil presentation event to commemorate the discovery. According to him, the most astonishing thing about the skull is that it has been preserved in such excellent condition.
Prehistoric whale skull, which paleontologists described as being in excellent condition.
Salas, on the other hand, went on to describe it as a first-rate predator that was most likely preying on fish and penguins at the time of the discovery. According to him, the thing was some kind of sea monster of the deep. There is no question that it did a tremendous lot of damage to the people who were looking for food at the time. They found the 36-million-year-old fossilized skull at the end of 2021 in Peru’s Ocucaje Desert, which is 215 miles south of Lima.
Paleontologists have given it the name “Ocucaje Predator” for the time being while their research on it is still ongoing. Even compared to previously discovered extinct species of ancient whales, Ocucaje Predator is enormous. Researchers claim that it possesses teeth that are substantially larger than those of others.
According to Urbina, this finding is significant since no other specimens like this have ever been discovered anyplace else around the globe.
Salas agreed with Urbina, too. According to him, the excellent preservation of this artifact makes it a rare discovery. Animals like these were among the most powerful predators of their day.
Things would have been extremely different for whales in their day than they are now. At this point in time, the Ocucaje Desert looks like a large area of flat, brown rocks. However, a shallow ocean teeming with marine life existed there for millions of years before then. There are also fossils of four-legged dwarf whales, as well as those of dolphins and sharks, discovered there.
It’s possible that this whale was at the top of the food chain in the ocean. It has a four-foot-long, toothy skull. It looks like the whale was about 39 feet long when it was alive. Paleontologists think it is a member of the basilosaurus family, which is a classification that literally translates as “king lizard.”
For the most part, it seemed to be a huge snake, writhing through the deep depths, but with its flippers tucked up close to its head. There are theories that the creature sunk to the ocean floor as it died, according to paleontologists. Once covered by silt, it remained undisturbed for a million years.
Salas indicated that the circumstances for fossilization in Ocucaje were excellent throughout this period of time in the past.
The Ocucaje Predator, like many other cetaceans, is thought to have descended from land-dwelling mammals. These animals evolved to be semi-aquatic over millions of years, as reported by Live Science. And that’s before they made the entire switch to aquatic existence some 55 million years ago.
Because of this, this discovery is very noteworthy. It has the potential to aid paleontologists in their efforts to better comprehend life (and death) in the prehistoric oceans.
An artist’s impression of what a basilosaurus would have looked like in the past.
According to Salas, the Peruvian ocean was warm during that period. He also expressed gratitude for this sort of fossil, noting that it may be used to recreate the history of the Peruvian sea.
In addition, Niels Valencia Chacón, director of the Natural History Museum at the university, emphasized the two decades of work done by Salas and Urbina at the presentation of the fossil specimens. UNMSM now has one of the greatest fossil collections in South America, according to Valencia, whose efforts have aided achieve this accomplishment.
Valencia claims that his sample offers a glimpse into the past. There is a misconception that biodiversity is limited to a certain amount of species. However, this isn’t always the case since biodiversity has so many facets, one of which is its evolutionary past.
This remarkable skeleton of a “sea monster” will be shown at Lima’s Museum of Natural History as part of a temporary exhibition titled “New Basilosaurus of Ocucaje.”