What is the shortest living organism

Bigger, heavier, longer

The greatest of all

The largest animal of all is the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). With an average body length of 25 meters - record-breaking specimens can also be up to 30 meters long - it is not the longest animal, there were dinosaurs that were longer, but in combination with its almost unbelievable weight of more than 100 tons is no different Living beings more powerful than the plankton eater that lives in all the world's oceans.

The largest herbivores

Back then…

The tallest grown dinosaur was the brachiosaurus. With its giraffe-like neck carried upright, it reached heights of up to 16 meters. The longest, however, was the 42-meter long Supersaurus from head to tail. However, in contrast to the Brachiosaurus, it probably could not lift its head and neck very far.

…and today

With a weight of up to 7.5 tons and a shoulder height of almost four meters, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest animal living on land today. In terms of height, however, is the giraffe, whose shoulder height is "only" around 3.50 meters, but whose head rises up to six meters.

The largest carnivores

…on land

The largest carnivore ever to exist among land-dwelling animals was the Giganotosaurus carolinii, a 14-meter-long dinosaur that lived around 100 million years ago. The colossus reached a shoulder height of four meters and weighed eight tons, but had a brain the size of a banana. The most famous carnivore among the dinosaurs - the Tyrannosaurus rex - was also up to 14 meters long and five meters high, but weighed “only” five tons.

Today the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), weighing up to 800 kilograms and standing 2.5 meters high, is the largest land predator on earth.

…in the water

Among the predatory sea creatures, the mosasaurs living in the Cretaceous are the record holders. The up to ten meters long marine dinosaurs do not belong to the dinosaurs, but are distant relatives of today's Komodo dragons. With a streamlined body and four paddle-like extremities, they hunted fish, turtles, and large mollusks.

Among the predatory sea creatures, the mosasaurs living in the Cretaceous are the record holders. The up to ten meters long marine dinosaurs do not belong to the dinosaurs, but are distant relatives of today's Komodo dragons. With a streamlined body and four paddle-like extremities, they hunted fish, turtles, and large mollusks. The largest predatory fish living today is the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The females of the species reach a length of up to five meters, the largest specimen ever caught measured seven meters and weighed 3.2 tons. The orcas are even bigger: These marine mammals can grow up to nine meters long. Other whale species are even larger, but mainly filter shrimp and smaller fish from the water and are therefore not considered top predators.

The largest pterosaurs

The largest reptile ever to take to the air was probably the pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus, which lived around 70 million years ago towards the end of the Cretaceous Period. Named after the feathered god of the Aztecs, the dinosaur had a wingspan of almost eleven meters. With a weight of up to 300 kilograms, the Quetzalcoatlus was built very light despite its size. It was predatory and presumably hunted arthropods, which it caught in flight with its long beak.

The largest flying insect

The largest insect in the history of the earth was probably the dragonfly Meganeura monyi, which lived 280 million years ago. This flying predator had a wingspan of 60 centimeters - for comparison: that of the hawk is about one meter.

Today, a South American butterfly is the insect with the largest wingspan: the moth Thysania agrippina still measures 32 centimeters from wing tip to wing tip.

The largest recent insect

Today the record for the heaviest insect is probably held by the Goliath beetle (Goliathus regius). With a body length of almost ten centimeters and a weight of 85 grams, the palm-sized beetle that lives in the rainforests of West Africa is already a small giant by insect standards. At 16 centimeters, the extremely rare longhorn beetle Titanus giganteus, which is at home in the South American rainforest, is even longer and almost as heavy.

The phasmids hold the absolute length record. A female of the species Pharnacia serratipes measured 55.5 centimeters from her outstretched forefoot to the rear foot and the average specimens easily exceed the 30 centimeter mark.

The tallest tree

The currently tallest tree in the world is the "Mendocino Tree", a 112 meter high sequoia tree (Metasequoia) in Montgomery Woods State Reserve, California. Until recently, a tree a few centimeters taller in the Redwood National Park was the record holder, but a storm trimmed the old giant tree by three meters and thus robbed it of the title.

The largest organism

The largest living organism is a mushroom: The specimen of the species Armillaria ostoyae or "honey mushroom" recently discovered in the American state of Oregon lives around 90 centimeters below the surface of the earth. The mushroom colony has a diameter of almost five kilometers and covers the area of ​​a thousand football fields. Experts estimate the age of the fungus to be at least 2,400 or maybe 7,200 years.


Status: 09/21/2002

September 21, 2002