Cheetah. Swordfish. Falcon. What do all of these animals have in common? They are all extremely fast. But which one is the fastest? Reaching speeds up to 242 miles per hour, the peregrine falcon easily wipes out its competition, earning the title of “fastest animal on earth.” This speedy bird of prey, however, is only one of the many record breakers of the animal kingdom. Here are a few of what I believe are the coolest and most impressive animal records of all:
Whale Shark – Largest Fish: The rightfully named whale shark is the largest fish (and therefore largest shark) in the world; they are about 40 feet and weigh about 11 tons. Relative to their size, they are very slow swimmers, which makes them seem harmless. Because they move so slowly and eat mainly plankton, whale sharks are one of the most gentle giants in the world.
African Bush Elephant – Largest Land Animal: African bush elephants weigh 10.4 tons, more than double the weight of their distant cousins the Asian Elephant. African bush elephants, both male and female, can become extremely aggressive when tired or protective of their young. A charging elephant can reach speeds up to 25 mph and will easily trample any human.
Saltwater crocodile – Largest Reptile: Saltwater crocodiles are known to be stealthy and deadly man-eaters that are as big as great white sharks. They hide in the brackish waters of south east India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and northern Australia. Their size allows them to eat large prey such as elephant or buffalo.
Elephant Seal – Largest Carnivore: When I read about the elephant seal, I was very surprised at how massive it was. The largest males weigh 8,800 pounds, which is more than double the average weight of a car. The elephant seal is larger than all the lions, tigers, crocodiles, and bears in the entire world. Another interesting detail is that male elephant seals are quadruple the weight of the females. Because male elephant seals are so gigantic, baby seals and smaller seals normally have a high chance of being smushed if they are not near their mother.
Blue Whale – Largest of All: Without a doubt, the blue whale is the largest animal in the world. It can grow up to 98 feet (about the length of an NBA sized basketball court) and weigh up to 198 tons (about 99 average sized cars). Its tongue alone weighs as much as an Asian Elephant! Blue whales also have the biggest appetites, eating about 3.3 tons of krill daily. Not only does the blue whale get the award for the largest animal, but it also is the strongest because of its sheer size and muscle.
Sperm Whale – Loudest Animal: The sperm whale’s clicking noises, which are used for echolocation and communication can reach 230 decibels underwater. To put this measurement in perspective, the human ear will become permanently damaged after constant exposure to more than 85 decibels. A police siren is 130 decibels, so imagine almost 2x its volume. Luckily, the sperm whale lives underwater, far from the coast.
Pistol Shrimp – Silver Medal: Second place for the loudest animal on earth goes to the pistol shrimp, which is one of my favorite animals. When hunting, the pistol shrimp snaps its abnormally large claw to form a bubble. The bubble has incredibly low pressure and implodes when it contacts the surrounding water. The shock wave formed from the bubble will stun most large fish and kill all small fish. The bubble can produce sounds of 218 decibels, which may cause permanent hearing impairment to a human.
Zorilla – Smelliest Animal: The zorilla, also known as the striped polecat, is in the weasel family, but looks like a skunk. They live in many parts of Africa and have black and white stripes. Just like the skunk, it sprays a potent fluid from smell glands underneath the tail. The smelly liquid can blind the zorilla’s predators temporarily, causing eye soreness, redness, and pain.
Peregrine Falcon – Fastest of all: Many people believe that the cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, but although the cheetah is the fastest land animal, the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal of all. By tucking its wings to form air cutting shape, the peregine falcon can reach speeds of up to 240 mph. Birds have an advantage when it comes to speed because they can use gravity to dive downward, which exponentially increases their maximum speed. Some other super fast flyers are the Golden Eagle and Frigate bird.
Black Marlin – Fastest Swimmer: Although some scientists believe that the sailfish is the fastest swimmer — because it is extremely difficult to measure the speed of fish underwater — the black marlin was recorded to swim at 80 mph (sailfish: 67.85 mph). The sailfish and black marlin look fairly similar, and their hydrodynamic body and fins allow them to glide quickly through the water.
Cheetah – Fastest on land: When someone says the word “speed,” I think of race cars and cheetahs. Cheetahs, with their flexible spines and long tails for balance, are the fastest land animals and have incredible acceleration. However, if a cheetah raced against a human in a marathon it would definitely lose. The cheetah can only run at around 70 mph for approximately 15 seconds before it must recover. If it pushed itself any further, it would die of overheating.
Box Jelly Fish – Most Venomous Animal: The box jelly fish can inject the most lethal venom in the world, which causes harm to the nervous system and heart. The infliction causes scarring, shock, and incredible pain that lasts for days.
Blue ringed octopus – Most Venomous Octopus: The blue ringed octopus is not the most venomous animal in the world, but it is very dangerous. It carries tetrodotoxin venom which can easily kill a human. When the octopus gets irritated, its signature blue rings begin to glow, which gives the blue ringed octopus its beautiful pattern.
Ocean Quahog Clam – Oldest Animal: Ming, an ocean quahog clam, lived to be 507 years old (c. 1499-2006). In 2006, the clam was found in the the ocean near Iceland, but was unfortunately killed when researchers opened its shell to find its exact age. As National Geographic states: “In the year Ming was born, Leonardo da Vinci was at work on the ‘Mona Lisa,’ the first recorded epidemic of smallpox hit the New World, and the Ming dynasty ruled China (hence the name).”
This article is based on an interesting book I found called, “Animal Record Breakers,” by Steve Parker. It’s a guide to many different species with detailed facts about each one. Definitely check it out!