A massive killer sperm whale with sharp teeth once roamed the world's oceans — and used to sink its teeth into other large sea mammals.
The colossal prehistoric creature even rivalled the famous giant shark megalodon in terms of its sheer scale and ferocity, say scientists.
Back in 2008 researchers in Peru found the mysterious bones from livyatan melvillei, which was an ancestor of modern-day sperm whales and lived 9.9–8.9 million years ago.
The terrifying beast, named after a biblical creature and the author of classic novel Moby Dick, had sharp teeth measuring 36cm long and would tear chunks off its unfortunate prey with a powerful bite.
It was around 17.5 metres long (57 ft) and had a huge skull sized three by two metres wide, roughly the same size as today's sperm whales.
This made the livyatan a strong rival for the megalodon, which typically sized up at 18 metres long and pursued similar prey.
Scientists even have evidence that suggests the two beasts faced off in scary sea battles, with a skeleton of the whale being found with 'meg' bite marks in North Carolina, USA.
Its primary diet is thought to have consisted of baleen whales.
Shortly after its discovery, Dr Oliver Lambert of the Natural History Museum in France commented: "This sperm whale could firmly hold large prey with its interlocking teeth, inflict deep wounds and tear large pieces from the body of the victim.
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"With their large size and robust jaws, Leviathan adults were surely free from predation.
"It was a kind of sea monster. It’s interesting to note that at the same time in the same waters was another monster, which was a giant shark [Megalodon] about 15 metres long."
Reflecting on its theorised encounters with the megalodon, he said it is "possible they may have fought each other.”
The livyatan is thought to have become extinct at the end of the Miocene period amid a period of cooling in the oceans.
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