The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales (called Mysticeti). At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 170 tonnes (190 short tons) or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed.
Help us understand the great creature that is slowing fading back in the sea. The Mighty Blue Whale
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales (called Mysticeti). At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 170 tonnes (190 short tons) or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed. Let us learn about about this mighty mysterious creature
Hello, so as the title explains I'm a designer working on an installation that features a scale replica of the heart of a blue whale. I got the inspiration from a post on Reddit I saw a while ago and I'm very eager to recreate the installation as accurately as possible, from scratch. However I can't seem to find any resources with in depth information about the physiology of a whale's heart that I could use as a kind of blueprint for building the structure. That's pretty much where i'm hoping to get some help from the community. Any references folks might have that feature an accurate, possibly even 3D diagram of a whale's heart would be tremendously helpful. Furthermore, any academic or informational texts that I should be aware of that give useful information about whale physiology are also very welcome. Thanks!
Hi everyone! ✨ Please help us in improving our website about marine life ❤️ We are a research organization that loves whales! Send me a direct message if you're interested!
Discover the astonishing history and current challenges facing the blue whale, the largest animal to ever exist. Once abundant, this marine mammal was relentlessly hunted to the brink of extinction until a ban was imposed in 1966. However, it still faces multiple man-made threats, including pollution, ship strikes, ocean noise, and climate change. Explore the ongoing struggle to protect and preserve this majestic creature in our modern world.
By now, most of us have seen the news articles announcing the discovery of a fossil whale, which many are calling "The Heaviest Animal Ever." Some have the decency to add the "May be" qualifier beforehand, while others announce that it has unequivocally dethroned the Blue Whale as the heaviest animal in Earth's history.
Today, I'm going to explain why this conclusion jumps the gun and is unlikely to be correct.
First, a quick refresher: The new fossil whale is called Perucetus colossus. It was discovered in Peru, and lived in the Eocene epoch sometime between 39 and 37 million years ago. It was part of the Basilosaurid lineage, (so called because the first fossil of this type was mistaken for a reptile), with the specimen found estimated to be between 17.0 and 20.1 meters (55.8-65.8 feet) long.
The mass of this whale is estimated to be anywhere from 85-340 tonnes (94-375 tons), and it's from this figure that the articles conclude that this whale was heavier than the Blue Whale. Even the lower estimate is still well within the average range of weights for Blue Whales. (Which vary quite a bit depending on subspecies and body condition, but are nearly all between 50 and 180 tons, or 45-163 tonnes, with a maximum of over 200.)
However, we must examine how this estimate was reached. The unusual feature of this fossil is that the bones are exceptionally dense, far more so than any other known Cetacean, living or fossil. Other Cetaceans have proportionally light bones, with most of their body density coming from muscle. Some have most of their body weight as blubber, such as the Right Whales, but it requires an extraordinarily high proportion of body volume to be blubber for this to be the case, as it's far less dense than muscle or bones. Internal organs make up a smaller proportion of mass and volume in all cases.
The 200+ ton estimates come from extrapolating Perucetus's total mass from the assumption that the skeleton made up the same proportion of body mass as it does in modern whales. For various reasons, it's unlikely that a whale with unusually dense bones would have the same amount of mass compared to the bones as whales with proportionally light bones.
There are, however, modern marine mammals, albeit not Cetaceans, that DO have bone structure and density comparable to Perucetus: The Sirenians, or Sea Cows, comprising Dugongs and Manatees. These animals have heavy bones comprising a much greater proportion of their body weight than Cetaceans, and large proportions of buoyant fat to balance them out. Comparisons to the skeletal weight proportions of Sirenians is where the low end weight estimates for Perucetus come from.
These estimates are far more likely to be accurate than the high end ones based on how body compositions work, but that's not the only reason: Consuming enough calories to sustain an animal the size of a Blue Whale, let alone one larger, is incredibly difficult. Blue Whales manage it with high speed acrobatic lunge filter feeding, which allows them to engulf their own body volume in prey-laden water and filter the prey out. High swimming speeds also allow them to cross large distances quickly enough to exploit boom and bust krill population cycles in different parts of the ocean.
Such a lifestyle would not have been possible for Perucetus. Based on the skeleton, this animal was neither fast nor particularly flexible. Its foraging options would have been limited to slower feeding, such as bottom grazing similar to Sirenians, bottom mud filter feeding similar to Gray Whales, or slow filter feeding similar to Right Whales. Having an extremely dense and relatively inflexible skeleton would not be conducive to any other lifestyle, and if not balanced out by higher proportions of lighter tissue to increase buoyancy, would make it very difficult for the animal to avoid sinking to the bottom and drowning.
Unfortunately, until (if ever) we find its skull, we can't know for sure what Perucetus ate. However, we can still say that it's very unlikely that it rivaled, let alone surpassed, the Blue Whale's maximum weight. The more likely weight estimates, combined with its length (extrapolated from various over Basilosaurid skeletons, as this one is incomplete, although we can be fairly certain it was less than 70 feet/21.3 meters long), paint a picture of a whale similar in length and weight to modern Right and Bowhead Whales: still SOME of the heaviest animals that ever lived, and overlapping with smaller and medium-sized Blue Whales in mass, but nowhere close to taking the crown.
I should be clear, scientists who wrote the paper about this discovery were not wrong to make these estimates. It's their job to explore all possibilities, no matter how remote, as they gather the data to find which is most likely to be true. It would be an incomplete investigation not to make the comparisons to modern whale tissue proportions that resulted in the high estimates. The scientists admitted that the range of values was extreme. But I believe, based on the evidence I've presented, that the high estimates are very unlikely to be correct, and will probably be discarded as more data comes in. All that can be said of them, and the reason that they made it into the paper, is that they have not yet been conclusively disproved.
This is not the first time there has been a hyped up large fossil claimed to be from an animal larger than a Blue Whale. Various Sauropods, fish, and Ichthyosaurs have been claimed to be larger, but none of these claims have withstood further scrutiny. Even Argentinosaurus, the largest dinosaur with size estimates considered to be reliable, had its estimated mass range revised down from 80-100 tonnes (88-110 tons), to 65-75 tonnes (72-83 tons).
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. An animal weighing more than a Blue Whale is an extraordinary claim. We do not have extraordinary evidence. All we have is an extrapolation that takes data out of context, and only exists because we do not have the data to conclusively disprove it.
r/BlueWhales will be going private to protest the Admins' harmful changes to Reddit's API.
My family and I were tossing around some silly questions at breakfast the other day. There was one question that stuck in my head ever since and the internet has not been very helpful to answer it.
So is anybody out there, who could tell us what's the average amount of amniotic fluid at the time of a bluewhale birth is?
All help is appreciated!
Art plan here, for anyone coming from a crosspost.