Nature's Giants: 27 of the world's biggest critters
Meet the world's biggest critters -- a surprisingly diverse array of the largest beasts on land and beneath the seas. From apes to spiders to 727-pound alligators, we grow 'em big here on Earth.


Larry Fitzgerald and some pals were moose hunting near Fairbanks, Alaska, when they came across fresh bear tracks in the snow. Three hours later, the auto body man had taken down the grizzly that left the prints, an enormous bruin that stood nearly 9 feet tall and earned Fitzgerald a place in the record books. Click here for more.

Larry Fitzgerald


It's big, it's hairy, and it's venomous. The newest spider to give arachnophobes the willies, a tarantula named Poecilotheria rajaei has been discovered on the island nation of Sri Lanka. Read more

Ranil Nanayakkara / <a href="">British Tarantula Society</a>

hogzilla 2 world's biggest pig

The reportedly largest pig ever (nicknamed "Hogzilla II") was killed by an 11-year-old Alabama boy while hunting with his father. The boy’s father claims the pig weighed 1,051 lbs and was 9-foot-4 from the tip of its snout to its tail. That would make it roughly 250 pounds larger than the original Hogzilla, a wild hog killed in Georgia in 2004.



Entomologists say quarter-sized "gallinippers" -- giant mosquitos typically 20 times the girth of their more petite yet still-pesky cousin -- have recently invaded Florida. Read more



Dustin Bockman, of Vicksburg, Miss., and his team of alligator hunters pose with the record-sized 727-pound alligator they caught in the Mississippi River in Claiborne County.

Ricky Flint/Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

Tallest Animal

The world’s tallest animal on land is the giraffe. The average male giraffe weighs about 2,600 lbs. and is between 14 and 17 ft. tall. The tallest on record was 20 ft. tall. 


Monster goldfish found in Lake Tahoe

Gigantic goldfish, like this one held by University of Nevada, Reno, researcher Christine Ngai, have been found in the waters of Lake Tahoe. Read more

Heather Segale

Largest Tree

The world's largest single stem tree, by volume, is the General Sherman tree, a Giant Sequoia in California's Sequoia National Park that stands 275 ft tall -- the trunk alone is estimated to weigh over 1,800 tons.

Wikipedia/Jim Bahn

Largest Reptile

The largest reptile in the world is the saltwater crocodile, generally 13 to 18 ft. long and weighing up to 2,200 lbs. Females are smaller, usually 7 to 11 ft. and 1,000 lbs. The largest on record? Twenty ft. long and approximately 2,600 lbs.

Wikimedia Commons

Largest Oceanic Dolphin

The Orca or Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) is the largest species of the oceanic dophins. Males normally grow from 20–25 ft long and weigh in excess of 6 tons; it has been reported that especially large males have reached nearer 8 tons. Females are smaller, growing from 18–22 ft and weigh about 5 tons. The longest Orca ever recorded was a male off the coast of Japan, measuring 32 ft.

Robert Pittman

Largest Land Carnivore

The Kodiak brown bear and the polar bear share the title for the largest land carnivore. The bears are generally 5 feet tall when walking on all fours, but can reach as high as 10 feet when standing on their hind legs. They often weigh as much as 2,200 pounds. 


Largest Land Animal

The African Bush Elephant is the largest animal on land. They're generally 10 to 11.5 feet tall and weigh 12,000 to 13,000 pounds, although the largest elephant on record was 13 feet tall and weighed 24,000 pounds.


Largest Jellyfish

The largest known species of jellyfish is the lion’s mane jellyfish. The largest ever recorded washed up in Massachusetts Bay in 1870 -- 330 lbs with 120-ft. tentacles. The sting of the lion’s mane isn’t know to be lethal to humans.  

Wikimedia Commons

Largest Invertebrate

The largest squid and invertebrate is the colossal squid. And the largest of those, caught in 2007 off the coast of Antarctica, weighed 1,091 pounds and was 33 feet long.


Largest Fish

The whale shark is the largest living fish. The largest ever recorded was 41.5 ft. long and the heaviest ever recorded weighed nearly 40 tons. Despite their oversized mouths, the whale shark feeds mainly on plankton and small fish. 

REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Largest Cat

The largest living member of the Felidae family is the Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), which has an average weight of around 500 lb. for males, but can reach as much as 675 lb. -- and some claim almost 850 lb.

Dave Pape

Largest Canine

The largest known extant member of the canine family is the wolf, though it could be one of two subspecies -- either the Mackenzie Valley Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis), with a record weight of 174 lb or the Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus lupus), with an unofficial weight of 190 lb.

Barry O'Neill

Largest Bony Fish

The ocean sunfish is the largest bony fish in the world. Rarely seen, adult sunfish typically weigh over a ton. Although it has few natural predators, the sunfish is considered a delicacy in some countries, though banned for sale in the European Union.

Wikimedia Commons

Largest Bird

The ostrich holds the title for the largest bird. Although flightless, the ostrich generally weights 140 to 290 lbs., though males can reach weights of up to 340 lbs. Ostriches can grow over 9 ft. tall and can run up to 45 mph. 


Largest Bat

The largest bat species is the giant golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus), a rare fruit bat and endangered species that is part of the megabat family. The maximum size is just 3.3 lb., but its wingspan can reach 6 ft.

Adam Myhill

Largest Arthropod

The Japanese spider crab, Macrocheira kaempferi, is the largest arthropod in the world in overall size, weighing up to 44 lb. It's body can grow up to 2 ft. long and have a leg span of almost 13 ft.

Popular Science, Jun. 1920

Largest Amphibian

The largest living amphibian is the Chinese giant salamander, the largest recorded at 6 feet long. The salamander, critically endangered, rarely reaches that size today – usually they're 4 ft. long and weigh about 60 lbs.


King of Herrings

This king of herrings was found in Sweden earlier this year. Measured at 11 feet long, the piece of a king of herrings was the first discovered in Swedish waters in over 130 years. Not actually a herring, nor related to the herring in any way, the king of herrings is actually an oarfish. Found in deep waters, the fish’s longest length was recorded at 55.5 feet. The king of herrings is believed to be the source of some sea serpent sightings.



A Giant African land snail is seen in this handout picture from the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry.

Florida state agriculture authorities are engulfed in an aggressive extermination campaign to snuff out an invasion of Giant African Land Snails, one of the world's most destructive invasive species.

Since the campaign started, authorities have collected 128,000 of the snails.



The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system and as one immense entity, it is arguably the largest living thing on Earth. It's made up of corals -- colonies of tiny, identical “polyps” who secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. The Great Barrier Reef covers approximately 133 square miles off the coast of northeast Australia and can be seen from space.


Eastern Lowland Gorilla

The largest living primate is the eastern lowland gorilla, standing up to 6.6 feet and weighing up to 550 pounds in the wild. The record for largest gorilla goes to Phil, raised in the St. Louis Zoo, weighing in at 860 pounds though he only stood 5.9 feet tall.



The largest animal on earth -- hands down -- is the blue whale. The largest whale ever recorded weighed 210 tons and was 98 feet long. (Longer whales have been recorded, but not weighed.) The blue whale is an endangered species. Hunted to the brink of extinction, there are between 5,000 and 12,000 blue whales left.


Nature's Giants: 27 of the world's biggest critters

Meet the world's biggest critters -- a surprisingly diverse array of the largest beasts on land and beneath the seas. From apes to spiders to 727-pound alligators, we grow 'em big here on Earth.

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