The animal world is amazing. From falcons capable of flying at speeds faster than a Formula 1 car to frogs just 5 centimeters long with enough poison in their skin to kill 1,500 people, nature never ceases to amaze and sometimes terrify us.
In a world where we have recorded 953,000 species of animals (900,000 of which are insects) but where there are estimated to be more than 7 million, the Earth is home to organisms that have adapted their morphology to their ecological needs.
In this sense, there are many physical characters to play with. And one of them is, without a doubt, the size. Some animals have chosen, throughout evolution, to be small, like the frogs we talked about at the beginning. But others, for being big. Very big.
So in today’s article we will embark on a journey throughout the oceans and continents of the Earth to find the largest animals in the world, presenting them in the form of a ranking until we reach the undisputed king of all giants: the whale. blue .
What are the largest animal species?
If we wanted to develop a perfect ranking, all the positions would be occupied by the different species of whales and other cetaceans. But as we want to give diversity to this list, we will keep the most representative species but we will introduce others that, despite the fact that in a real list they would occupy positions further back, deserve to be mentioned.
We do not offer the most precise ranking, but we do offer the most representative in terms of size scales, since we will see aquatic mammals, terrestrial mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, jellyfish… With that said, here we go.
Goliath Tarantula: 30cm
Obviously, a 30 centimeter animal is not number 20 among all the largest in the world, but we have already said that we want to put size in perspective, covering many different groups. In this sense, the Goliath tarantula is the largest spider in the world .
Native to the tropical forests of South America, this huge spider is also one of the most poisonous in the world. Although not fatal to humans, the bite causes a lot of pain, nausea, irritation, burning, etc. As if this were not enough, when feeling threatened, it is quite aggressive.
Ostrich: 2.10 meters
Native to the plains of Africa and Saudi Arabia, the common ostrich is the largest bird in the world . Adults measure, on average, 2.10 meters, although some males can reach 2.80 meters and weigh more than 150 kg.
It is not surprising, then, that they lay the largest eggs in the world (each one weighs 1.4 kg) and that they cannot fly. Of course, despite their size, they can run up to 70 km/h. The maximum that a human being has reached is 45 km/h and Usain Bolt achieved it.
Polar bear: 3.10 meters
The polar bear is the world’s largest land carnivore . Native to the icy areas of the northern hemisphere, an adult polar bear can grow to be 3.10 meters long and weigh up to 680 kg. Despite this incredible size, they are very fast (easily reaching 40 km/h) and they are fantastic swimmers, something very important since their diet is mainly based on fish, seals and walruses.
Hippopotamus: 4 meters
Being the animal that causes the most deaths in Africa due to its territoriality, the hippopotamus is one of the largest mammals in the world. It is a mainly herbivorous and semi-aquatic animal whose adult individuals can reach 4 meters in length and weigh more than 1,500 kg. And, despite this and their short legs, they can run at more than 30 km/h.
Nile crocodile: 4.20 meters
Crocodiles could not be missing from this list. And the Nile is the second largest in the world. Native to more than 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile crocodile is one of the largest reptiles. With an average length of 4.20 meters (some specimens have reached 5 meters) and a weight that can reach 750 kg, it is one of the most dangerous animals, as hundreds of people die each year due to its attacks on regions near the rivers, which are their habitat.
White rhino: 4.40 meters
Rhinos are among the largest animals in the world. And among the different species (there are currently five different ones), the white rhinoceros is the largest. Adults can reach 4.40 meters and weigh 3,500 kg. Despite this, these giants of more than three tons can run at more than 50 km / h .
Sea crocodile: 4.50 meters
The saltwater crocodile is not only the largest crocodile species in the world, but the largest reptile on Earth . Native to the swampy areas of Southeast Asia and northern Australia, the saltwater crocodile has an average size of 4.50 meters, although they can be much larger.
In fact, there is evidence of a specimen that measured 8.50 meters and weighed 1,700 kg. They are super predators that hunt absolutely everything (even other smaller crocodiles) and are capable of swimming at more than 45 km/h.
King cobra: 6.40 meters
The king cobra is not the largest snake in the world, but it is the largest venomous snake . Native to India, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and southern China, the king cobra is an extremely toxic snake that ranks number 6 in the ranking of poisonous snakes. In fact, it is the one that produces the most amount of poison.
As if this, together with its size that can reach 6.40 meters, were not enough, we are dealing with a snake whose diet is based almost exclusively on other snakes, which can even be larger than it.
African elephant: 7.50 meters
The African elephant is the world’s largest land mammal . Inhabiting the forests and plains of more than 37 countries in Africa, the African elephant is a true giant. With a height of 4 meters, a length that can reach 7.50 meters and a weight of more than 10 tons, we are also facing the heaviest mammal in the world.
It is estimated (the last study was carried out in 2016) that there are about 410,000 individuals left alive, although poaching, disease (an anthrax outbreak in 2019 caused the death of more than 100 individuals) and the destruction of their habitat makes it an endangered species.
Orca: 9 meters
The killer whale is an aquatic mammal that, although surprising, is part of the dolphin family. In fact, it is the largest species within this family that exists. It inhabits all the oceans of the Earth, although it prefers the cold waters near the coasts. In addition, this animal, which can reach 9 meters in length and weigh 5,500 kg, is one of the most intelligent in the world .
Anaconda: 10 meters
The anaconda is, along with the reticulated python, the largest snake in the world. In fact, there is still controversy about which species is the largest of all reptiles and, considering that we have already left behind birds and mammals, the largest land animal.
Native to the rivers of South America, the anaconda is a species of constrictor snake (it does not kill through a venomous bite, but by suffocation by constriction) that can reach 10 meters in length and weigh about 85 kg. Unless it feels threatened, it does not attack humans .
Whale shark: 12 meters
The whale shark is the largest fish in the world , and its average length is 12 meters. Despite its immensity, this species of shark is not predatory at all, as it feeds by filtering on phytoplankton, like whales. It has inhabited the tropical seas of temperate waters, near the equator, for 60 million years. Unfortunately, climate change has caused it to be considered a threatened species.
Gray whale: 13.50 meters
The gray whale is one of the whale species that, despite not being one of the largest, is one of the most famous. Currently it only inhabits the northern part of the Pacific Ocean but it makes one of the longest migrations in nature , from the north of Mexico where the females lay their eggs to the north of the Bering Sea, where it feeds in summer, because at its bottom there is the krill (crustaceans) on which it feeds. Adults can reach 15 meters in length and weigh more than 20 tons.
Reticulated Python: 14.84 meters
The reticulated python is, along with the anaconda, one of the largest snakes in the world, although recent research seems to show that, on average, this species has the largest specimens. Therefore, it is the largest land animal in the world. In 2005, a 14.84 meter long reticulated python weighing almost 450 kg was found in Indonesia, making it the largest snake (and land animal) ever recorded .
Giant squid: 18 meters
Giant squid are a group of cephalopods (some scientists believe that it is really a single species) that is very mysterious, as they inhabit very deep regions in different parts of the oceans at depths of at least 250 meters, although they can reach 1,500 meters. meters below the surface . They very rarely rise to the surface, so their investigation is very complicated.
Be that as it may, we are talking about animals that, on average, are 18 meters long. There is evidence of a specimen captured in 1933 in New Zealand with a length of 21 meters and a weight of 270 kg. And, if this were not terrifying enough, we are talking about a predatory animal.
Fin whale: 19.50 meters
The fin whale is one of the largest animals in the world and competes with the sperm whale for second place (we will see that the first two of the top are a bit of a “cheat”). Be that as it may, we are dealing with a cetacean that, on average, has a length of 19.50 meters. It inhabits all the oceans of the planet, except the coldest waters, and feeds on fish, crustaceans, squid, etc. Due to poaching, it is an endangered species .
Sperm whale: 20 meters
The sperm whale is an aquatic mammal of the whale family, although it can be distinguished from these by the protuberance in the head area. It is, again, an endangered species that inhabits the oceans around the world. It is currently considered the second largest animal, reaching 20 meters in length.
As if this were not enough, everything becomes more spectacular if we take into account that one of its favorite prey is giant squid, being able to dive almost 3 km deep (remember that it is a mammal) to find them. In fact, judging by the tentacle markings on their skin, it is believed that these two giants engage in intense battles in the deep ocean . To hunt, the sperm whale needs teeth, making it the largest toothed animal on Earth.
Blue whale: 24 meters
We come to the king (later we will understand why he is in third place) undisputed. The blue whale is the largest animal in the world. Adults usually measure between 24 and 27 meters in length, weighing up to 120 tons, although specimens of 30 meters and more than 170 tons have been recorded .
Not only is it the largest animal today, but the fossil record that is known indicates that it is the largest living being that has inhabited the Earth in its entire history. Unfortunately, from a population of almost 240,000 individuals before the hunting of these animals began, it is currently believed that there are only a few communities with about 2,000 individuals in each.
Taking into account that it weighs 120,000 kg (about the size of 6 fire trucks), the blue whale needs to ingest, through filtration, more than 3 tons of krill per day.
Lion’s mane jellyfish: 37 meters
As we have commented, the last two positions are “cheating”. Well, depending on what we mean by “big”, the blue whale may not be the largest animal in the world. If we consider “big” as a mixture between length and weight, it is unquestionably so; but if “big” only refers to length, the blue whale is not king.
In this line, the lion’s mane jellyfish is “bigger” than the blue whale, since these cnidarians are still animals with tentacles that, no matter how fine they are, can reach 37 meters in length , giving rise to an animal much longer (and larger, if you don’t look at weight) than a blue whale.
Bootlace worm: 55 meters
But that jellyfish is still not the queen. There is an animal as long as half a football field . It is a worm that inhabits the seas of England and that produces neurotoxins to protect itself from predators that, despite the fact that its body has a width of, at most, 10 millimeters, it can grow up to 55 meters in length . They are coiled on themselves, but when they uncoil, we find what is by far (pun intended) the largest animal (depending on what we mean by “large”) in the world.