Friday, 27 February 2015

Livyatan melvillei

This month’s creature has the largest known teeth of any known animal (not including tusks which could also be consider teeth). It is the Livyatan melvillei which is an extinct physteroid (which means it is part of the whale family) whale which lived 12 to 13 million years ago (in the Miocene era).
Let’s call it Livyatan for short. The fossils for Livyatan were first discovered in November 2008 just south of Ica, Peru and they only found a skull but that was enough to estimate the size of the animal. These fossils were dated to be 12 to 13 million years old. Researchers originally named the whale Leviathan dedicating the discovery to Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick) as they were fans of the book. It's scientific name is derived from that name and the authors name. Livyatan sounds like Leviathan and Melvillei is his last name with i at the end.
Livyatan is 13.5m to 17.5m (44ft to 57ft) long, there is not much else known about the size of this ancient whale other than it is about the size of an average adult sperm whale ( one of the largest known predators), putting it up there with Spinosaurus and Predator X. There are two reasons this creature is so epic: it's teeth size and skull size. Their teeth are 36cm (1.18ft) long (I guess you could say they are long in the tooth) and have them on both the upper and lower jaws while sperm whales only have them on the lower jaw. They are the largest teeth used for eating ever known so far. Sperm whales do not use their teeth for eating or capturing prey but it is believed that Livyatan did. They were used to grab their prey, kill it and then rip it apart to eating, very much like any other predator with large teeth would. With teeth like that, why not use it to your advantage? These whales could eat great white sharks for a snack, they give the amazing megalodon a run for its money.
Much like the sperm whale, Livyatan have large skulls - 3 m(9.8ft) long. It is believed that the large skull had a spermaceti organ which is an organ the sperm whale has in its skull as well. This organ is filled with fats and waxes called spermaceti which is used to receive the clicks from the echolocation the whale uses underwater. This organ allows the sound to travel almost twice as fast as it does in the oil in a dolphins head. It is believed that this organ may also help adjust buoyancy, allowing them to dive deeper than other whales. No one knows for sure what was in Livyatan large skulls but it is believed it hunted in relatively shallow water so maybe they used echo location and/or used their heads as a battering ram much like sperm whales do now. If you look at a the pictures of what Livyatan is believed to look like it looks like a giant submarine with huge teeth, imagine if that hit the Titanic instead of iceberg. I would pay to see that movie, it would be horrible but I would love it!
Not a lot is known about this epic creature as we only have a skull but once I saw it I had to share it. Because it has the largest teeth known and a huge battering ram skull, I nominate the Livyatan Melvillei as this month’s EPIC CREATURE OF THE MONTH! (I picture a deep announcer voice saying that.)


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Happy Valentine's

In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I would do a mini post about the hearts of the animal world so here are some interesting facts:

Hummingbird hearts average 1000 beats per minute (bpm), which is six beats per second! The human heart has an average bpm of 60 to 100.

Cheetahs have a normal heart rate of 120 bpm but it can raise to 250 bpm when running.

Giraffes have the highest average blood pressure of any mammal (280/180mm mercury), also their heart weighs about 12Kg(26.5lbs). This all helps to combat gravity and push the blood all the way up their necks. I wonder if they have anxiety blood pressure spikes?

A blue whale has a heart the size of a car, it weighs 589.7Kg(1300lbs) and pumps 7 tons of blood. The arteries connected to the heart are so large a human baby could crawl through them! That is huge!

Octopuses have 3 hearts, which is why they are such good huggers! [Yes, octopuses is an acceptable plural of octopus. There are also octopi and octopodes.

Dogs have the largest heart to body mass ratio of all mammals which makes sense as dogs are so loveable.

Zebrafish can regenerate their hearts! It is hard to understand how they can go without the heart for it to regenerate, maybe I’ll have to do a full post on this one as it sounds so cool!

And of course, Timelords have two...