In this blog post we will consider what are the strongest animals in the world? Here these include in nature dealing with different scales ranging from planetary, human made and bio-physiological forces.
To start our journey of animal strengths out, we will now consider mammals in the animal kingdom. Before talking about the individual mammal strenghts lets first try and define this animal category:
Mammals are defined from a set of characteristic traits common through all of them. One of these if not the most recognizable one of them are the mammary glands. The mammary glands make it possible for the animals to produce milk to feed their offspring.
Furthermore we have a variety of other traits which include a variety of characteristics such as the following list:
- Hair or Fur: Mammals are often posed with hair or fair covering their entire body ensuring that the body heat is regulated more easily through the insulating layers of hollow tubes (Hair strands).
- Endothermy: Mammals are endothermic creatures meaning that they are able to easily regulate their own body temperatures through internal processes in their body.
- Specialized teeth: Mammals have different types of teeth, including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. These teeth are adapted for various functions such as biting, tearing, grinding, and chewing food.
- Diaphragm: Mammals have a muscular diaphragm capable of contracting and expanding playing a crucial role when respirating separating the abdominal and chest cavities allowing for efficient contraction of the lung spaces.
- Viviparity: Most mammals are viviparous. This means that the give birth to young lively creatures who have matured live within the body of the mother. This differs from egg laying creatures as they are maturing within a hard shell.
These are just some of the characteristics of mammals and thus the list is not a complete list but rather some of the most common traits characterizing mammals in general.
For the next upcoming section lets start and consider the strength that we all know and love, human strength and how it compares to other mammals which we all know from our everyday life.
Humans: Smart, efficient and endurable
Our human traits are similar to many other animals and thus we humans are considered to be mammals ourselves. We have developed a quite comprehensive body which are walking on two legs compared to the general norm of four legs.
This have given us an advantage compared to our mammal relatives as we save energy when transporting around compared to the situation where we travelled utilizing four feet as Gorillaz or chimpanzees do.
The bipedal walking methodology allow humans to endure long distance running which compared with other animals are quite different resulting in the ability to run down prey until exhaustion a common type of hunting strategy practiced in the prehistoric era of human endeavor.
The long distance running endurance allowed us to easily prey on more explosive animals such as deer, cows and horses as the endurance allowed human to outpace the prey over long distances.
Another bipedal advantage of humans is the ability to free up the remaining two legs to develop into hands. The fact that humans have developed hands allowed them to specialize into a variety of different fields of expertise which required specialized movements of hands. Some of the common types of hand movements required are communication driven allowing us to communicate efficiently over larger distances compared to our four legged competitors.
This form of hand gestures and body language developed over the millennia have allowed the humans to develop quite sophisticated forms of communication without saying a single word. This includes the general types of hand waving, eye rolling and smirking of the face which all translate information to people interested in knowing more about what the person is supposed to transfer a message about.
Humans have actually become so good at this that often times we don’t actually think about the interpretation instead we know at an instead what message the person is trying to tell us about. This is one of the defining characteristics of human behaviors which are among other things able to distinct us from other animals.
Next up we will try and consider what constitutes human strength and how that enables humans to actively utilize the motoric muscles which we are all given from birth.
Strength of the human
The strength of human beings are mostly supposed through the legs and upper body strengths. For the particular question regarding strength of the human body lets start off investigating the strongest part of the human body the legs.
The leg muscles are the biggest and strongest pieces of the human body which are able to carry the entire weight of the body and even more as they are used to walk around and jump, run and other types of exercises.
The ability to move and sprint requires quite some flexible strengths of the muscles and when it comes to the leg muscles they are able to easily be trained to adopt to different exposures. The trained potential allows for the conditioning with a remarkable capacity to adapt and improve in strengths, power and endurance. By conducting regular exercise it is possible to train the muscles to adopt to the external loads of the environment which when trained properly can lead to increased performance.
The leg muscles of the human body can on average lift 50% to 70% of the average body weight meaning that a person weighing 70 kgs. Then it is usually possible lift 35 to 50 kgs. Thus the average human being is able to lift approximately half of its own body weight on top of its own weight.
Gorillas: Primate strength
Gorillas are quite strong compared to the average human body as they have developed over the years with effective movements within an environment fostering tree swinging from branch to branch and trespassing difficult to navigate terrain often overgrown with thick branches, leaves and trunks from fallen trees.
The upper body strength of the largest primates such as gorillas are quite difficult to accurately quantify as there does not exist accurate measures of the upper body strengths. However most estimates are that gorillas are several times stronger than the average human body as they typically effortlessly break of very thick branches and punches their hardened chest muscles in an display of dominance and shear upper body strength.
Furthermore gorillas are capable easily moving quickly up and down broken and fallen trees utilizing their massively strong upper body strength. As the average Gorilla weigh an approximately 180 to 200 kgs meaning that they weigh quite significantly more than the average human being.
Bench-pressing to the max
We can compare this weight to estimates of the general strength of Gorillas whose estimates of the general strength varies in the order of up to 1800 kgs meaning that they are able to lift more than nine times in fact research have shown that gorillas in certain scenarios are able to lift upwards of 27 times their full body weight! Now that is some bench pressing which are worth noting.
Related read: What are the benefits of exercise?
Next up lets look into one of the strongest animals which have walked the earth, an animal which we all know and love; the elephant!
Elephants: Large and strong
The elephant is the largest living mammal on the planet and are found on many continents although not all and their abundance is mainly focused in Asia and Africa. The elephant is a beloved by many and with good reason, they have helped humans carry out exemplary work including lifting and moving heavy equipment and not the least towing wagons filled with goods, see source for more information.
The largest of all elephants are the African elephant. The African elephant weighs between 2.600 and 6.300 kgs meaning that it weighs more than the average car.
Elephants are despite their massive size herbivores meaning that they use their large trunks to pick off leaves and similar from trees located high up from the ground level.
Their distinctive look is characterized by their tusks, long trunks, big ears and shear size which dominates the animal kingdom. A picture of a large male African elephant is outlined in Figure 2.
As such large male elephants only have very limited natural predators as their size make them almost indestructible. Only in certain situations are the male elephants threatened by other natural predators, these include lions which in rare occasions threaten weakened elephant individuals or if they become extremely hungry they might run the risk of attacking an elephant straight on.
Now for the interesting part which we have been waiting on, how much do they lift? While providing a simple and accurate answer might be difficult due to the lack of standardized weights and tools the common estimate for the trunk of an elephant is that it is able to lift as much as 350 kgs, meaning that with it nose it lifts more than the typical human being is able to lift at max strength, however this is not nearly as much as the gorilla can lift.
The reason for the discrepancy between gorilla strengths and trunk strengths of elephants is that the elephant anatomically is quite different from our similar primate the gorilla. As such a more reasonable comparison would be as to how heavy an object an elephant would be able to pull along. For this answer is quite a lot higher than the meager 350 kgs. For pulling power, an elephant is actually able to pull around 7000 kg, or the weight of several average cars. Now that is what I call core strength!
Now that we have looked into the largest land animal, it is time to take a deep dive into the oceans and explore the largest animal which have ever lived on the planet earth, the blue whale!
Blue whale: Massive, slow and gentle
The blue whale is without a doubt a magnificent creature, looking at the shear size of the animal it spans an estimated 30 m’s from top to toe making it the largest living, breathing animal to ever roam the earth whether looking at the sea, land or air.
The blue whale is not only a long animal, it is also quite heavy! As a matter of fact, a full grown individual weighs approximately 100 to 150 tons, corresponding to 100.000 – 150.000 kgs! That is more than multiple fully loaded trucks. For a picture of a blue whale see Figure 3.
As the individuals are living under water it is difficult\not appropriate to associate a lifting force to any part of the body, however blue whales are quite powerful beings capable of reaching speeds of upwards of 32 kilometers an hour with their massive tails. This is in spite of the massive body mass of the whales making it an truly amazing feat that they are able to accomplish.
Moving on from the large and strong animals such as the elephants and gorillas we instead reduce the scale of the animals and arrive at quite some fascinating possibilities when it comes to shear strength compared to their body weight. Here we will try and consider the strengths of insects one of the smallest (when talking absolute size) animals which we are able to find.
To start off lets first try and define what characteristics that is being described by insects, in the following we are trying to list most of the insect characteristics along with some facts about the animals.
- Body Structure: Insects have a segmented body divided into three distinct regions: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The head contains sensory organs, mouthparts, and compound eyes. The thorax has three pairs of jointed legs and usually one or two pairs of wings. The abdomen contains vital organs such as the digestive, reproductive, and respiratory systems.
- Exoskeleton: Insects have an external skeleton or exoskeleton made of a tough and flexible material called chitin. The exoskeleton provides support, protection, and serves as an attachment site for muscles.
- Three Pairs of Legs: Insects have three pairs of jointed legs attached to the thorax. These legs are used for walking, jumping, climbing, or digging, depending on the insect species.
- Wings (in most species): Most insects possess one or two pairs of wings attached to the thorax. Wings allow insects to fly or glide easily navigating large distances without the need for excessive use of muscles.
- Antennae: Insects typically have one pair of sensory antennae attached to the head. These antennae play a crucial role in detecting chemical, tactile, and auditory signals from the environment.
- Metamorphosis: Many insects undergo metamorphosis, which is a transformation process involving distinct stages. Insects with complete metamorphosis, such as butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies, go through four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar or maggot), pupa (cocoon or chrysalis), and adult. Insects with incomplete metamorphosis, like grasshoppers and dragonflies, have three stages: egg, nymph, and adult.
- Respiratory System: Insects breathe through a network of tiny tubes called tracheae. These tracheae allow oxygen to enter directly into cells, enabling efficient gas exchange without the need for lungs.
- Reproduction: Insects typically reproduce sexually, with separate male and female individuals. They lay eggs, which hatch into larvae or nymphs, and eventually develop into adult insects.
These are some but not all of defining characteristics of insects which all have something to do with the way that insects go about the world which we live in.
In the following lets bring forth the loop and have a look at one of the most recognizable and amazing creatures living in large colonies on this planet. You might have guessed it already but we are talking about the ant!
Ants: Small and strong
Ants are incredibly strong creatures whose hive mindset can build incredibly complex network of structures and caverns on which they all hide within. In fact, one might consider them one of the dominant species of the planet as they are capable of creating hives within most forest and are to be found on all continents in the world, see source.
Ants are insects and is easily seen to fulfill our defining characteristics listed above, for a zoomed in picture of an ant, see Figure 4. As can be seen the ant fulfil most of the criteria listed as displayed with antennae, an exoskeleton, Three-part divided body and Reproduction system through their egg laying and colony building behavior.
Ants upper body strengths allow them to carry approximately 10-50 times their own body weight. This estimate vary based on a number of different factors such as the ant fatigue, species, terrain and the object geometry.
This impressive feat is only possible due to the ants specific body composition which allows individuals to easily carry many times their own body weight.
When we thus compare the ants strength with the other animals outlined in this blog post, we see that it easily outcompetes both the gorilla, elephant and blue whale when thinking about shear body weight to strength ratios, however as we know, speaking shear absolute strength this ant really loses to its mammal counterparts.
Our comparison methodologies are thus seen to be quite difficult to generalize as both the Gorilla, Elephant, Blue whale and Ant are animals living and breathing on our planet but each have quite different strengths and body compositions adapted to their respective living environments, whether that be dense forests, vast savannahs, deep blue oceans or pine filled forests.
Keeping a focus on the body-strength comparison metric we must acknowledge just how strong the ant is, so in order to fully comprehend this lets try and compare the ratio of 50 times its body weight and apply it to our much larger animal; The elephant.
As we have outlined, the elephant weighs in the range of 6.300 kgs. Meaning that with an assumed ratio comparable with the ant, it would be able to lift approximately 315.000 kgs! Surely this is quite an insane comparison and this just shows the extreme strength which the ant inhibits.
However the ants are easily dwarfed compared to the next animal on the list; The dung beetle.
Dung Beetle: Small, smelly and strong
Dung beetles are fascinating creatures that play a vital role in ecosystems worldwide. These resilient insects belong to the family “Scarabaeidae” and are known for their peculiar lifestyle centered around dung. With over 6,000 species found across the globe, dung beetles are remarkable for their ability to locate, process, and utilize animal feces.
They have a unique adaptation for survival, as they roll or bury dung balls for food or to lay their eggs. By efficiently recycling waste, dung beetles contribute to nutrient cycling, soil health, and pest control, making them essential in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Their incredible behaviors and ecological significance make them a captivating group of insects to study and admire.
The dung beetle is thus vital for the ecosystem which it exists and thrives in and not only that, it is also an incredible strong animal capable of lifting a whopping 1.000 times its own body weight! This magnificent feat clearly dwarves that of the Gorilla, Elephant and Ant. For a picture with a dung beetle on top of a dung roll see Figure 5.
The dung rolls shear size compared to the dung beetle makes their exhaustive work of molding animal feces into rollable balls an almost unbelievable accomplishment. Furthermore the fact that they are rolling them around, sometimes in inhospitable places such as deserts makes this even more astonishing.
In this blog post we have considered a vast variety of animals ranging from land living mammals to dung rolling bugs. We have compared their individual strengths with their body mass and elucidated some interesting trends and facts about the animals which live on our earth.
In conclusion it is seen that the larger animals win the strength competition when comparing with absolute weight, with the elephant taking the trophy or strongest animal. However compared to their body weight the competition shifts heavily in favor of insects with the dung beetle taking the throne of strongest insect capable of lifting approximately 1.000 times its own body weight.
Open AI – ChatGPT
Wikipedia – Ants