Ancient tooth shows giant 'killer' whales lived outside Americas

This hand-out picture released by Museum Victoria on April 22, 2016 shows Erich Fitzgerald, a palaeontologist at the Museum Victoria, Image copyright AFP/Museum Victoria
Image caption Palaeontologist Erich Fitzgerald (pictured) from Museum Victoria said the find was internationally significant

A giant tooth discovered on a beach in Australia is the first evidence that enormous "killer" whales lived outside the Americas, researchers say.

Collector Murray Orr found the 30cm-long (12 inch) fossil at Beaumaris Bay near Melbourne in February.

Mr Orr donated the fossil to Museum Victoria, which unveiled it to the public on Thursday.

Museum Victoria said the five-million-year-old fossil belonged to an extinct species of "killer sperm whale".

"Until this find at Beaumaris all fossils of giant killer sperm whales were found on the west coast of South and North America," palaeontologist Erich Fitzgerald told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The museum said the whale, a predecessor to today's sperm whales, may have measured up to 18m in length and weighed up to 40 tonnes.

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