Until quite recently, I had been under the impression that the strongest animal on the planet was the inconquerable Chuck Norris. I mean, while most of the other animals in the world would be concerned with surviving a zombie apocalypse, the zombies would be worried about surviving Chuck Norris.
However, it has recently come to my attention that there are actually animals out there that are stronger than Chuck Norris. What a revelation. In fact, if we consider Chuck Norris to be a human being, one of the comparatively weaker species on the planet in terms of physical strength, then that means… I don’t want to think about it.
Anyway, many of the strongest animals in the world are not surprising. They’re the biggest, baddest, and most brutish species in the world that tower over us humans in strength and size. However, there are also some species on this list that may surprise you. While they may appear small and unassuming, some of these species pack an incredibly large punch for their size. So, let’s get into it. These are the six strongest animals in the world:
1. Blue Whale
The first animal on this list, the blue whale, is no surprise whatsoever. Growing up to 98 feet long and reaching a maximum weight of around 199 tonnes, the blue whale is not only the largest animal currently on Earth but the largest known to have ever existed. Yes, I’m talking about those dinosaurs, too.
While blue whales obviously cannot kick or pull or grab due to their lack of arms and legs, their strength is put on display every time they use their tail to move their massive bodies through the water. Every slap of that tail can generate up to 60 kilonewtons (about 13,500 pounds) of force. That’s more than enough to crush a car like it was a soda can.
Blue whales can live up to 73 years and spend most of their life swimming around leisurely and collecting krill through filter-feeding. That sounds like a pretty good life to me. While most blue whales have been observed swimming at a relaxed pace of around 5 miles per hour, they’ve been recorded to swim as fast as 30 miles per hour when threatened.
2. African Savanna Elephant
The distinction of the largest animal that lives on land goes to the African savanna elephant. Unsurprisingly, the African savanna elephant is also the strongest animal that lives on land.
These impressive beasts can grow up to 13 feet in height and weigh up to 10.4 tonnes, which pales in comparison to the 180-tonne blue whale, but is pretty astounding when compared to most other animals on the planet, including humans.
The African savanna elephant isn’t big for nothing. It’s built for strength, and a lot of that strength comes from its trunk. An elephant’s trunk contains around 100,000 muscles and tendons, which allows it to pick up objects such as tree trunks with ease.
Not only that, but an elephant’s trunk is extremely tactile and versatile, giving it the ability to complete complex tasks. Their powerful trunks combined with their extremely dense bones allow them to perform amazing feats of strength. It’s been reported that some African savanna elephants can carry objects as heavy as 14,000 pounds.
3. Saltwater Crocodile
Most people already know that it’s not too difficult to keep a crocodile from opening its mouth, but it’s nearly impossible to keep one from shutting its mouth. This is due to the fact that the muscles in a crocodile’s jaw evolved specifically for the purpose of closing, not opening.
However, you may not have known that these muscles give the saltwater crocodile the strongest bite of any animal on Earth. When a saltwater crocodile bites down on its prey, it’s able to generate up to 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Compare that to the 100 pounds per square inch that humans are able to generate and you’ll begin to understand just how powerful that bite is.
A male saltwater crocodile can grow up to 21 feet long and weigh up to 2,900 pounds. With such large bodies, not to mention those stubby legs, they aren’t quick enough to catch most of their prey in an all-out sprint. So, these crocodiles hunt by stalking their target and then coming down on them with those supremely powerful jaws, usually killing them instantly.
4. Dung Beetle
The ancient Egyptians revered the dung beetle for the impressive way in which it would roll balls of dung up hills, which they believed mimicked the way that the sun rolled into the sky every day.
The ancient Egyptians were definitely onto something because the dung beetle is actually the strongest animal in the world relative to its body weight. One species of the beetle is apparently able to pull up to 1,141 times its own body weight, which would be the equivalent of a human pulling six double-decker buses.
The dung beetle may have incredible strength, but they’re anything but brutes. In fact, the dung beetle seems to be incredibly in tune with the cosmos, since it’s the only animal known to navigate using polarizing moonlight patterns and orient itself using the Milky Way. Most human beings don’t even know the Milky Way when they see it in the sky, but dung beetles use it to navigate constantly.
5. Harpy Eagle
The harpy eagle is not the largest bird in the world, but it is typically considered to be the strongest bird of prey on Earth. It’s found throughout Central and South America, where it is an apex predator and the largest and most dominant bird of prey in its range.
These birds focus their hunting efforts primarily on monkeys and sloths. They can weigh up to 20 pounds and have a wingspan of up to seven feet, which makes them bigger from wingtip to wingtip than most NBA players are from head to toe.
Another terrifying thing about the harpy eagle is that its wings are slate-black, making them nearly undetectable in shadows and at night. They also have the largest talons of any living eagle, so when they decide to come down on their prey, there’s very little chance of escape. It’s no wonder that these birds were named after the spirits that brought the dead to the underworld in Greek mythology.
6. Western Lowland Gorilla
While humans don’t rank anywhere close to one of the strongest animals in the world, we do have a relative in the primate family that can hold its own with these other super-strong animals: the western lowland gorilla.
This subspecies of gorillas has evolved to be the biggest and strongest of all gorillas, and they make humans look like some serious wimps. In fact, any adult gorilla can lift at least six times as much as a human, and adult western lowland gorillas can weigh as much as 600 pounds. With those elongated and extremely muscular arms, I wouldn’t want to tussle with a gorilla.
As a side note, the only albino gorilla to have ever been discovered was a western lowland gorilla from Equatorial Guinea. The male gorilla was brought to the Barcelona Zoo in 1966 and named “Snowflake,” an unfortunate nickname for an animal of such incredible strength. In 2001, Snowflake was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer, almost certainly related to his albinism, and had to be put down in 2003.