What are Some of the Largest Animals on Earth?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Bush elephants are the largest land mammals.
Bush elephants are the largest land mammals.

Many of the largest animals on Earth live in the ocean, making accurate identification rather difficult. Some of them, such as the Colossal Squid, have never even been seen in adult form, leading to debate over how large they actually get. Fortunately, a large assortment of land animals are also quite large, and they are much easier to measure. However, it is important to remember that the largest animals on Earth are eclipsed in size by some organisms, such as the honey fungus, which can cover areas of ground measured in miles with its mycelium, and the General Sherman Tree, a giant sequoia in California, which is estimated to weigh almost 10 times more than a blue whale.

Crocodiles are some of the largest reptiles on Earth.
Crocodiles are some of the largest reptiles on Earth.

The generally accepted largest animal on Earth in terms of size and volume is the blue whale. The largest blue whale ever weighed was a 210 ton female. Blue whales roam the oceans of the world, and are considered to be seriously endangered, despite efforts on the part of biologists to save them. The exact number of blue whales on Earth is unknown, but is estimated between five and 12 thousand individuals. Blue whales may be among the largest animals on Earth to exist ever, as they are larger than any of the dinosaurs were.

The endangered blue whale is the largest animal to ever exist on Earth.
The endangered blue whale is the largest animal to ever exist on Earth.

Among the largest animals on Earth are a number of sea going creatures such as the Lions Mane Jelly, which can actually grow to be longer than a Blue Whale. The Man O'War can also get extremely long, but since it is a collection of organisms rather than an individual, it is usually not counted in the list of the largest animals on Earth. The Japanese Spider Crab is also quite large. Given the large portions of the ocean which remain unexplored, it is possible that there are more large organisms lurking in the depths of the ocean.

California's General Sherman Tree is estimated to weigh about 10 times more than a blue whale.
California's General Sherman Tree is estimated to weigh about 10 times more than a blue whale.

The ocean isn't the only place to find big creatures. On land, many of the largest animals on Earth can be found in Africa. Bush elephants are the largest land going mammal, and hippopotami are close behind. Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles on Earth, and the Chinese Giant Salamander has the title of largest amphibian. Birds are represented by the ostrich, and the Goliath beetle is the largest insect.

As can be seen, several of the animals considered to be the largest animals on Earth are also under threat. Many large animals take some time to mature, making them vulnerable to predators when they are young. Many large animals also unfortunately have body parts which are valuable to humans, such as ivory. Many of the largest animals on Earth were indiscriminately hunted by humans, resulting in serious problems for their populations, which also reproduce more slowly than small animals.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Planch

I always think it's such a shame when large animals, like elephants, are endangered. Of course, it's sad when any animal is endangered, but for some reason the larger ones seem to be more "real" to me.

I mean, this may sound trivial, but I think that I would miss the presence of an elephant more than I would an algae or endangered bug.

googlefanz

Did you know that there are a number of very large plants out there too? I know that you mentioned sequoia trees, which get to be huge, but even if you don't take trees into account, then there are still some super-large plants.

It seems like a lot of the rainforest plants are particularly large. For instance, the Rafflesia arnoldii is the world's largest single flowering plant. Disconcertingly, it also happens to smell like rotting meat. Can you imagine being the first person to run across one of those things?

Of course there's a lot of other big plants too, the plants of the rainforest don't have the majority. Just think about the saguaro cactii, titan arums (that also smell like dead meat), and horsetails, all of which can grow well over six feet tall.

Just makes you think how small humans are in comparison, right?

naturesgurl3

How many of those large animals are endangered, I wonder? I've been looking up a bunch of information about animals of the rainforest, especially the larger ones, and it's really shocking how many threatened and endangered animals there are.

I mean, even considering birds alone, the Harpy Eagle, one of the largest eagles, is endangered, and that's not even considering the tiger or gorillas. Of course there are also countless smaller animals that are endangered too, and even some rainforest plants are endangered!

Kind of gets you thinking about how to save the rainforest again, right?

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    • Bush elephants are the largest land mammals.
      By: tiero
      Bush elephants are the largest land mammals.
    • Crocodiles are some of the largest reptiles on Earth.
      By: stuporter
      Crocodiles are some of the largest reptiles on Earth.
    • The endangered blue whale is the largest animal to ever exist on Earth.
      By: Tlaloc Xicotencatl
      The endangered blue whale is the largest animal to ever exist on Earth.
    • California's General Sherman Tree is estimated to weigh about 10 times more than a blue whale.
      By: urosr
      California's General Sherman Tree is estimated to weigh about 10 times more than a blue whale.