What Is the World’s Longest Animal?

A siphonophore like this one was found off the coast of Australia, measuring 150 feet (46 m) in length.
A siphonophore like this one was found off the coast of Australia, measuring 150 feet (46 m) in length.

Nothing can compete with a blue whale in terms of sheer size, but the gigantic marine mammal seems short when compared with a siphonophore discovered in underwater canyons near Western Australia in 2020. The siphonophore -- a worm-like entity composed of a colony of cloned individuals -- measured approximately 150 feet (46 m), which researchers say makes it the longest living creature ever recorded.

Siphonophores might look like long, harmless strings, but they are actually predators that feed by catching prey with stinging tentacles that stretch out in the water and catch fish or small crustaceans.

The researchers who came upon the siphonophore also discovered several other species that they believe have never been recorded, including a long-tailed sea cucumber, glass sponges, and an octopus squid. But the siphonophore was the main event, according to researcher Nerida Wilson. "It was just amazing to see this huge organism spread out like a spiral UFO, hovering in the water column," she said. "We couldn’t believe what we were seeing."

For the record, the longest blue whale on record measured 111 feet (34 m).

Some long stories:

  • The longest snake on record was a reticulated python found in Malaysia in 2016; it measured 26.2 feet (8 m) in length.

  • The wandering albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird, measuring up to 12 feet (3.7 m) long.

  • The longest known dinosaur was the Argentinosaurus, which stretched more than 130 feet (40 m) in length, or as long as four fire engines placed end to end.

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    • A siphonophore like this one was found off the coast of Australia, measuring 150 feet (46 m) in length.
      A siphonophore like this one was found off the coast of Australia, measuring 150 feet (46 m) in length.