Many believe dinosaurs were the largest animals that have ever roamed this planet. Sure enough, it would be pretty scary if a house-sized dinosaur walked past us, especially if it was a T-rex or some other dreadful prehistoric carnivore. But we have to look for the largest giants elsewhere. Not in the past, or on land.
Largest Land Animal – African Elephant
Let’s start with the most obvious one. With a height of about 3 meters, the African elephant (Loxodonta) lives in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in national parks. This animal has no rival on land, as its length can reach up to 8 meters (26 ft) and it weighs about 5-6 tons. Its dimensions are well illustrated by the fact that its ears alone can reach a length of one and a half meters.
The newborn African elephant weighs more than one 100 kilograms (220 pounds). An adult African elephant consumes 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of plant material per day and drinks 2-300 liters of water. These animals sometimes wander hundreds of miles in search of water. Due to their huge size, they can cause huge damage in cultivated areas.
Record-Holder of the Air – Wandering Albatross
The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) is the largest living flying bird by wingspan, which typically ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 meters (8 ft 3 in to 11 ft 6 in). Its average body length is over 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and it weighs 6-12 kilograms (13 to 26,5 pounds).
This species of albatross is also one of the most far-ranging birds. Some specimens have been observed to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times, covering more than 120,000 km (75,000 mi), in one year.
Largest Flightless Bird – Ostrich
With its long neck and brown plumage, the ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest (tallest and heaviest) bird on earth, only found in the wild in open country Africa. An adult male can reach up to 2.75 meters (about 9 feet) tall – almost half of that height is neck – and weigh more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds). The female is somewhat smaller but, nevertheless, lays the largest eggs of any living land animal.
With the ability to run at 70 km/h (43.5 mph), ostrichs are also the fastest birds on land. You definitely don’t want to mess with them.
Largest Reptile – Saltwater Crocodile
The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the largest living reptile and crocodilian on the planet. Males grow to a length of up to 6 meters (20 feet), rarely exceeding 6.3 meters (21 feet) or a weight of 1,000–1,300 kilograms (2,200–2,900 pounds). Females are much smaller, rarely surpassing 3 meters (10 feet).
The saltwater crocodile is an opportunistic hypercarnivorous apex predator. It ambushes most of its prey and then drowns or swallows it whole. It is capable of killing almost any animal that enters its territory – and also humans.
King of the Seas (and Entire Earth) – Blue Whale
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal that reaches a maximum confirmed length of 30 meters (98 feet) and weighs up to 199 tons – about the weight of 40 African elephants. It is the largest animal known to have ever existed, so it’s definitely the winner on this list. Interestingly, females are bigger than males.
Blue whales are filter feeders and their diet consists almost exclusively of euphausiids (krill). Despite their huge size, their throat is very narrow and they are therefore unable to swallow animals larger than a ball.
The Overall Picture
Finally, here is a comparison of the largest animals that have ever lived on earth.
The blue whale is clearly the winner.