Home Magazine Titans of the Animal Kingdom: Today’s Largest Creatures Across Categories

Titans of the Animal Kingdom: Today’s Largest Creatures Across Categories

by GO ON
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Everyone probably knows that the largest land animal today is the elephant, but record holders in the category of birds, reptiles or amphibians have considerably less publicity. The long-extinct giants of the past also deserve attention.

Majestic Mammals: The Giants of Land and Sea

The elephant holds the title for the largest land animal in contemporary times, a fact well-known across the globe. Yet, when it comes to the giants among mammals, the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) takes precedence as not only the largest mammal of today but the largest animal to have ever existed. While it holds the record by weight, with some individuals reaching up to 190 tons, its length of 33.6 meters, though impressive, falls short of several dinosaurs from the Mesozoic era. On terra firma, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) dominates as the largest land mammal, with records of individuals weighing up to 12.2 tons and standing 4 meters tall at the shoulder. The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), however, surpasses in height, with a record-breaking individual measuring 5.87 meters.

Prehistoric Giants: Echoes of the Tertiary Period

The Paraceratherium, a colossal ungulate from Asia’s Tertiary period, once stood as the largest land mammal, reaching heights of five meters, lengths over eight meters, and weighing up to 16 tons—equivalent to the mass of three large elephants.

Feathered Giants: Then and Now

The African two-toed ostrich (Struthio camelus) currently claims the title for the largest living bird, standing up to 2.7 meters tall and weighing at least 156 kilograms. The migratory albatross (Diomedea exulans) boasts the largest wingspan among birds today, approximately 3.7 meters. Among historical avians, the Madagascar „elephant bird“ (Aepyornis maximus) weighed up to around 500 kilograms, standing over 3 meters tall, and the Argentavis magnificens from six million years ago in Argentina had an astounding wingspan reaching up to eight meters.

Reptilian Leviathans: Modern-Day and Ancient Record-Holders

Today’s largest reptile is the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), with record sizes reaching 6.3 meters in length and weighing almost 1.4 tons. The reticulated python (Python reticulatus) is known as the longest reptile, with lengths reportedly up to 9.7 meters. The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) tops the charts among turtles, with lengths up to 2.7 meters. The Argentinosaurus huinculensis, a sauropod dinosaur, is recognized as the largest of all-time reptiles, measuring around 35 meters in length and weighing over 80 tons.

Amphibian Behemoths of Today and Yesteryears

The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) leads among contemporary amphibians, reaching lengths of 183 cm and weights of 64 kilograms. The prehistoric realm was dominated by the Prionosuchus plummeri, a temnospondyl amphibian from the Permian period, measuring nine meters long. The largest known frog, the „toad from hell“ (Beelzebufo ampinga), lived 70 million years ago in Madagascar, reaching lengths of 40 cm without legs and weighing over 4 kilograms.

The Monarchs of the Fish World

Excluding cartilaginous fish, the ocean sunfish (Mola mola) stands as the largest bony fish currently, with a fin span of up to 4.2 meters, body length of 3.3 meters, and weight around 2,300 kilograms, showcasing the diverse array of sizes across the animal kingdom, both in the present and past eras.

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