A friend of mine and I just got into a conversation about animals. And, as often happens with men that grew up in an era of violent video games and people getting punched on YouTube, the conversation naturally turned to fighting.
What would happen if you threw two animals, ones that would never fight one another in the wild, into the ring and had them duke it out. Here’s the real question, though: would Joe Rogan be the announcer or would David Attenborough?
Anyway, this article is more for fun than any sort of scientific exploration. I’m not a biologist, zoologist, animal psychologist, or any kind of -ologist for that matter. I’m just a guy who likes to think about badass animals going at it and what the outcome of those battles would be. Also, for the record, I don’t want to see any animals die. I love animals. And it’s precisely that amazement at the incredible strength and prowess of these animals that makes me wonder what it would be like if they were pitted against one another in a fight to the death.
I’m going to try to put away my mammalian bias and my natural affection for certain animals for these analyses. And before we begin, I have to admit that my favorite animal is a rhinoceros. Always has been. That big horn (sometimes two horns). That thick, leathery skin that looks like plated armor. They’re awesome. And as much as I want to say that there’s no animal on the planet that could beat a rhinoceros in a fight, I think we’re going to have to go into the details and make a more informed decision. Get ready for the rumble in the jungle.
Rhino vs. Hippo
Alright, for the most part, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses almost never fight in the wild, even though they live in many of the same parts of the world. But, with both being of similar size and each having their own competitive advantages when it comes to fighting, it sure is interesting to think about which of these animals would take the belt if they were to go head-to-head.
For the rhino, its combat prowess obviously comes from its massive size, its armor-like skin, and that big horn jutting out of the front of its face. However, while hippos are generally slightly smaller than rhinos, they are known to be far more aggressive and probably have a whole lot more fighting experience (male hippos fight with other male hippos all the time).
Now, although I said that hippos and rhinos never fight, that doesn’t mean that they never fight. There is one recorded fight between a rhino and hippo in which the hippo dragged the rhino into a watering hole and drowned it to death. However, this particular rhino’s horn had been removed by poachers, so I’d hardly call it a fair fight.
There have also been some recorded battles between rhinos and hippos in which the rhino beats the piss out of the hippo. In general, I would say that the rhino would win the majority of bouts between these two species. It’s hard to argue with the fact that a rhino has a giant lance on its face. Plus, rhinos are often considerably larger than their hippo counterparts.
Silverback Gorilla vs. Grizzly Bear
Now, here is the conversation that originally led me down this train of thought. My friend was wondering if a grizzly bear could beat a gorilla in a fight. Of course, these two animals don’t live in the same parts of the world, and so this matchup could never happen in real life. However, it’s a pretty interesting question to consider.
On the one hand, gorillas are the buffest bad-boys in the jungle and they have biceps on biceps and boulder shoulders that would make the meathead at your local gym look like a toothpick. On the other hand, bears are big and burly and have razor-sharp claws that are tailor-made for tearing apart flesh.
In reality, though, this matchup wouldn’t be all that great. Grizzly bears are about twice the weight of even the largest silverback gorillas and they have at least two feet of height on them as well. Not to mention, grizzly bears have ten 5-inch blades attached to their hands, making them sort of like the Freddy Kreugers of the forest.
A gorilla’s only chance in a fight against a grizzly would be to get behind it and put it in a chokehold. But, any attack from the front would only lead to the gorilla getting hit with a knife-studded haymaker that would most likely end its life right there and then. Grizzly bear takes the cake on this one.
Lion vs. Tiger
There’s a whole lot of pride at stake in this battle right here. Who is the baddest big cat of them all? The sultans of the savannah versus the kings of the rainforest. It’s a tough one to call at face value.
Both of these big felines are extremely large, dangerous, and fear-inspiring, and I’d rather not run into either one of them face-to-face in the wild. Tigers have been known to take out extremely dangerous animals such as crocodiles; however, lions have been known to attack elephants, which is certainly no small task.
In reality, the answer to this age-old debate is that a tiger will win nearly every time in a one-on-one fight against a lion. Tigers are physically much larger than lions and are also a good deal stronger.
When asked about the winner of this bout, the owner of the Londolozi Reserve in South Africa said, “I’ve seen tigers crunch up a full-grown leopard tortoise like it was nothing. And lions try, but they just don’t get it right. If there’s a fight, the tiger will win, every time.” Now, it might be more interesting to see a battle between a lion and a jaguar. The lion would have the advantage in terms of size, but that jaguar has a stronger bite than any big cat on Earth.
Great White Shark vs. Saltwater Crocodile
While all of the previous matchups have been terrestrial animals, we’re going to get aquatic with this one. For this fight, we have to go to the arena where both of these animals have been proven to be successful hunters: coastal shallow waters. Both animals will hunt in this habitat whereas sharks obviously never go on land and crocodiles never travel out to the open ocean.
Let’s assume that both animals are the same size (as they often can be in the wild). And, of course, we’re going to assume that both of these animals are going in for the kill, even though they would probably never attack each other in nature.
In this battle, the great white shark is winning every time. Well, maybe not every time; there might be a few flukes. However, the biggest difference here is that the shark is a hell of a lot faster than the crocodile and a hell of a lot better at navigating in the water.
Crocodiles primarily hunt using the element of surprise, staying undetected and then lashing out at their prey at the critical moment. A great white shark has no need to hide, as it can swim faster than most other aquatic animals out there. A crocodile’s top swimming speed is around 18 miles per hour (which it can only maintain for a short period), whereas a great white shark can swim around 35 miles per hour for an extended period of time.
If this fight were to go down, the shark would probably launch an attack on the crocodile from its underside (where it’s the most vulnerable), thrash it around, tear out some flesh, and then retreat to survey the scene. It would then do this over and over again until the crocodile was dead.