When people think about the largest animals that ever lived, dinosaurs are often the first thing to come to mind. It might come as a surprise that the largest animal ever recorded still lives today, although it is on the endangered species list. Others were indeed prehistoric creatures that would have dwarfed today's largest land animal, the African elephant, weighing about 14,000 pounds.
By far, the largest animal known to exist either today or throughout history is the blue whale. Historically, these giant marine mammals reached up to 100 feet in length and weighed up to 150 tons. These days, thanks to whale hunters targeting the larger members of the species, blue whales generally only grow up to about 80 feet in length. As newborns, these whales start out around 25 feet in length. Nursing calves can drink up to 100 gallons of milk each day.
The skeleton of the largest known land-dwelling herbivore, the Argentinosaurus, was discovered in Argentina in 1988. This 100 million-year-old dinosaur stood about six stories tall and stretched 120 feet long from its head to the tip of its long tail. Not much else is yet known about this plant-eating giant, but archaeologists estimate that it weighed around 100 tons.
History's largest known carnivore, the spinosaurus, also lived about 100 million years ago in the region now known as Africa. This meat-eating dinosaur's head alone measured 6 feet long. From head to tail it stretched about 60 feet in length and is estimated to have weighed about 10 tons. It also bore a spiny sail along the length of its back that stood almost 7 feet tall when the creature arched its back.
This gigantic, prehistoric member of the shark family inhabited the oceans about 25 million years ago. The megalodon reached about 52 feet in length and could have fit a modern-day rhinoceros in its jaws. Thankfully, this monstrous fish is believed to have died out about 1.5 million years ago.
- Mother Nature Network: 10 of the Biggest Animals to Roam the Planet: The Blue Whale
- Mother Nature Network: 10 of the Biggest Animals to Roam the Planet: Argentinosaurus
- Mother Nature Network: 10 of the Biggest Animals to Roam the Planet: Megalodon
- Mother Nature Network: 10 of the Biggest Animals to Roam the Planet: Spinosaurus
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Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.