Awesome Wildlife Record Breakers

Here are some of the many extraordinary facts about wildlife, as a reminder of how deep and rich the natural world really is.

Extra-Large Wildlife

Blue whales reach lengths of 110 feet (with females being bigger than males), making them the largest animals to ever live! They are also one of the loudest animals on Earth, songs can reach nearly 200 dB (louder than a jet engine!) and travel for hundreds of miles across the ocean.

For another animal with impressive length, here is a video of a 49 foot long python, being held in captivity in Indonesia. Over the centuries there have been many tales of giant snakes. This 983 pounder tells us the tales were mostly true. In recent years, pythons have become an extra-large threat to the Florida Everglades ecosystem, where pet owners have released the non-native species into the wild.

Similar tales of exotic wild creatures at sea may have been spawned by such as this 2,000 pound, nine foot long loggerhead turtle that, sadly, only came to view because it snagged in buoy cable. NWF and colleague organizations took many needed steps during the 2010 BP Gulf oil disaster to protect loggerheads and other turtle species.

We all know that giraffes are our tallest land animal and that some have reached heights in excess of 20 feet, but the world’s tallest subspecies of giraffe, the Rothschild, is now in danger of extinction.

Smallest Chameleon
Scientists exploring Madagascar reported the discovery of what is thought to be the world’s smallest chameleon, Brookesia micra, a leaf chameleon. Photo by Glaw, F., et al., PLoS ONE

Extra-Small Wildlife

By contrast, the smallest of reptile was recently discovered in Madagascar: Brookesia micra. It is a tiny leaf chameleon that measures an inch when fully grown.  Recent efforts to inventory wild species in tropical forests are finding hundreds of previously undocumented species, including this little guy who lives in leaf litter and only comes out at night.

Speedy Birds

There are many record-breaking speedsters in the animal kingdom. The Peregrine falcon gets the nod for being able to dive at speeds close to 150 mph, but Siberia’s spine-tailed swift wins the overall prize for flying across the sky at 106 mph.

And while cheetahs are the fastest land animal, able to run at 70 mph, the ostrich is the fastest land bird, having been clocked at about 45 mph.

My favorite speedster may be the Gentoo penguin which can swim at about 25 mph through Antarctic seas. These penguins need their speed and smart maneuvering to keep from becoming food the large predators such as orcas. This two minute video, called Happy Gentoo, shows how this all works for a worn out but clever penguin being chased by a pod of orcas. It has a surprise ending you may like. By breaking a record, the little guy avoids becoming a statistic.

Big Leapers

The highest land-based leaper seems to be the cougar, which can jump straight up over 20 feet. The highest ocean leaper seems be a toss-up between orcas and sharks which can get themselves some 20 feet above the waves.

Southern cricket frogs are one of the best jumpers in the amphibian world, reaching heights of over 60 times their body length (that’s like a person jumping up a 38 story building!).

Eastern Hercules Beetle
Eastern Hercules Beetle

Longest Commutes

The arctic tern seems to win in the “longest commute” category with its annual 21,000 mile round trip from pole to pole and the North American caribou does a 5,000 mile round trip on land.

Hercules! Hercules!

Last but not least, rhinoceros beetles–sometimes called Hercules beetles because they possess strength of a herculean proportions–can lift objects 850 times their weight. That would be equivalent to a human lifting 9 fully grown male elephants!

Protect Record-Breaking Wildlife

You can help wildlife – adopt your own record-breaking animal today! >>