Largest animals in the world – at a glance

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in Size


The largest & heaviest of all time – The blue whale

Twice as heavy as the biggest dinosaur,  the blue whale is the undisputed King of Big. Its heart is the size of a car, its brain four times the size of ours and it can grow to thirty times the size of an African elephant! The largest ever caught was over 110 feet long and weighed nearly 200 tonnes.  Find out more about the largest animals that ever lived, including dinosaur chomping crocodiles and bugs the size of a car!



Largest on land – The African elephant

These intelligent animals can reach a height of 12 feet and weigh more than 10 tonnes - more than enough to squash a mouse. One downside of being so big is that elephants can get very hot and shade is not easy to find when you’re as big as a tree. The solution? A pair of thin, curtain sized ears they can flap to keep cool.


Largest bird – The ostrich

Standing at 9 feet tall and weighing around 160 kg, this flightless bird definitely wouldn’t fit in your oven. Unsurprisngly, the ostrich also lays the largest bird eggs. However the biggest  (heaviest) bird that is able to fly is the Kori bustard. These birds can often weigh 19 kg yet still manage to get airborne.


Largest spider – Goliath bird-eating spider

These spiders are types of tarantula and are actually pretty harmless unlike the not quite so large Brazilian Wandering spider. But with a leg span of nearly 30cm, this tarantula is still one creepy crawly you do not want to find in the bath. Luckily their natural habitat is limited to the coastal forests of Venezuela and Guya.


Largest nose – Probiscus monkey

Despite having a fleshy honker so enormous it has to push it to one side when eating, the male probiscus monkey is not complaining – the bigger the honker, the more irresistible he is to the opposite sex! Read more about nature’s best lookers here.


Largest insect – The Goliath beetle

This enormous beetle can be found in Africa’s tropical forests . They can reach 11-12 cm in length and weigh up to 100 grams. See this close up video to get an idea of how big it really is.


Biggest growth spurt – The ocean sunfish

This large bony fish can grow to more than 4 metres (12-feet) in length and weigh two tonnes. However at birth it starts off in life as a tiny egg (one of millions) no bigger than a pea. If we grew at the same rate as an ocean sunfish we would be the size of a skyscraper.


Largest flock of birds – The red-billed quelea (not pictured)

It has been estimated that as many as 1.5 billion of these fast-breeding gregarious birds may swarm over Africa’s savannah. The Quelea birds are small ravenous grain eaters and even when flying in smaller colonies of 20,000 can demolish a hectare of wheat within hours.


Why are whales so big?

Answer : Firstly, the buoyancy of water helps support their weight. This allows them to grow far larger than any land animal who must support its own weight. Secondly, being big serves a useful purpose when you’re a a warm blooded mammal who lives in very cold water. This is because being big helps decrease heat loss - so a big body means a warm body and whales need to keep warm.



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