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Re: Biggest predator? (Fringe topical at best)

Larry Dunn wrote:
> Am I forgetting someone, folks, or is the Sperm Whale far and away the
> largest single predator of large lifeforms ever to live on Earth
> (excluding, rather arbitrarily, harvesters of krill)?  Or was there some
> Pliosaur that was bigger?
> (I mean by "large" a product of length and weight -- excluding thereby a
> prime prey animal of old Physeter catodon, the giant squid, believed by
> some marine biologists to reach astounding lengths of up to 45m.)

I dunno, that's kinda like wondering what the biggest land predator
was.  _T-rex_?  _Gigantosaurus_?  Something else?  Who knows?  Maybe you
count _Shonisaurus_, the 50' Icthyosaur, and then there's the 40'+ shark
_Carcharadon megalodon_, then _Kronosaurus_, _Liopleurodon_, perhaps
_Mososaurus maximus_, and so on.  All of these were truly immense in
size, but all cap out at somewhere around 40-50' (although _M. maximus_
probably wouldn't be a true competitor; I believe it's max length was
something like 35 feet or so).  Yes, _P. catodon_ can reach 20 meters,
but those individuals are quite rare and we can be sure that our
specimens of the above mentioned reptiles and fish aren't the largest
individuals of their respective species.

In answer to your question, _P. catodon_ is definitely among the biggest
predators of all time, but to call it the biggest is like calling _T.
rex_ the biggest therapod of all time; you can do it, but you may well
be proven wrong somewhere down the line.