10 Strongest Animals on the Land
There are over 70 species of eagles found on Earth, and these large birds of prey are all powerfully built. The strength of eagles has been admired by many nations throughout history, as evidenced by its use in many national symbols. The eagle is featured on the coat of arms of many different countries, and, of course, the bald eagle is a proud symbol of the United States. The bald eagle, which is native to North America, was adopted as the United States National emblem is 1782, chosen because of its majestic beauty, long life and immense strength.
Most eagles are larger than other raptors. They have heavy heads with large, hooked beaks that are well-suited for tearing flesh from their prey. Their massive talons are sharp enough to kill prey as large as deer and monkeys.Eagles’ eyes are also extremely powerful, allowing them to spot their prey from incredibly long distances, even when they are well-camouflaged. Studies suggest that some eagles can spot an animal the size of a rabbit from up to two miles away!
Due to their immense power, eagles are ranked at the top of their food chain. The bald eagle has been recorded as flying while carrying the heaviest load verified to be carried by any flying bird. Astonishingly, this particular bird carried a mule deer fawn who weighed 15 pounds. Imagine seeing that duo flying through the air!
Eagles strike an impressive backdrop against the sky. They can have a length of over 3 feet, a median wingspan of over 7 feet, and a body mass up to 15 pounds. When defending their territories from other eagles or trying to attract a mate, the birds will display amazing aerial acrobatics and death-defying swoops, locking talons and free-falling in an intense spiral.
Anacondas are members of the boa family. The green anaconda from South Africa is the largest snake on earth, pound for pound. Anacondas can grow to 550 pounds and over 29 feet. They are a truly frightening sight to see. They typically spend their time in swamps and marshes. Since their nasal openings are located on the top of their head, they are able to hide from prey while staying almost completely submerged underwater. Because of their immense weight, they can move quicker in water than they can on land.
Anacondas feed on a diet of birds, turtles, wild pigs, deer, jaguars, and capybaras, the world’s largest rodent. They catch their prey by biting with their extremely sharp teeth. An anacondas teeth are rear-facing, acting as a trap to prevent prey from wriggling away. Anacondas do not contain venom like some other snakes do. Instead, they kill their prey by coiling their bodies around them and squeezing until they suffocate. Every time the caught animal exhales, the anaconda is able to squeeze tighter. Their incredible jaws have stretchy ligaments that allow them to swallow their prey completely whole, regardless of its size.
Even the digestive enzymes and gastric juices in an anaconda are powerful. After an animal is eaten whole, the anaconda’s stomach and small intestine will begin the digestion process and absorb the nutrients. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. After the largest meals, anacondas can survive for months without food.
To witness the amazing feat of an anaconda devouring its prey, you can check out this National Geographic videoof a green anaconda attacking a capybara. Be warned that viewer discretion is highly advised.
8. Grizzly Bear
Grizzly bears are the largest species of bear and are native to North America. The average length of a grizzly is 6.5 feet and the average shoulder height is over 3 feet. Adult males weigh 400-790 pounds on average, although some have been recorded with staggering weights up to 1,500 pounds. Grizzly bears have powerful front claws that measure 2-4 inches in length and can tear with ease. Despite their large size, they are capable of running up to 35 miles per hour. In 2013, the second largest grizzly ever documented was taken down by a hunter. It had a massive skull which measured over 27 inches.
Grizzly bears can hibernate for 5-7 months each year, during which time they do not eat, defecate or urinate. In preparation for hibernation, they consume an immense amount of food. They have been known to prey on moose, elk, caribou, sheep, bison, deer, fish, birds and even black bears. Grizzly bears will also approach feeding predators to steal their kill. It is common for most species to relent their kill to an approaching grizzly bear in order to avoid a confrontation that they likely couldn’t win. Grizzly bears can easily overpower any animal that is in its natural territory. However, it doesn’t often turn to a physical fight. Usually, a grizzly bear only has to display its large teeth and claws through posturing, growling, and roaring, and the other animal will back down. It often isn’t necessary for a grizzly bear to actually attack.
Since grizzly bears are too large to escape danger by climbing trees like black bears can, they stand their ground and fight with increased aggressiveness. While grizzly bears normally avoid interaction with humans, they will attack when surprised at close range or when protecting offspring or a food supply. When a human encounters a grizzly bear, his or her best bet is to make a lot of noise and avoid running.
Oxen are particularly powerful animals, and humans have used their power to our advantage for centuries. It is believed that they were first put to work for humans around 4,000 BC. Oxen are commonly used to plow fields, pull carts, haul wagons, trample grain for threshing and power machines. Their brute strength makes them ideal for a variety of tasks. Oxen typically work side by side, being attached with a specially-fitted yoke. When two oxen of similar size and speed are yoked together, their strength is increased significantly. They can pull extremely heavy loads in a slow and steady manner. Many farmers today are returning to animal labor over machines to help with farming. Not only do oxen not need fossil fuels or electricity to operate, but they have other benefits to farms too. Their hooves aerate the soil as they walk, which helps to preserve the soil’s microbial layers, and their droppings help to fertilize the soil.
The term “as strong as an ox” is quite fitting, considering an ox is powerful enough to pull one and a half times its body weight across rugged terrain. When yoked together properly and used in pairs, they can pull more than double the combined weight that two single oxen could pull. For a short burst of 6-8 feet, a team of oxen areable to pull up to 13,000 pounds! The success of a team of oxen depends on how well they are trained to work together. They are able to work long hours, and typically have a long life span.
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching up to 670 pounds, 4 feet in height at shoulder, and 13 feet in length. They have muscular bodies which feature powerful limbs, immense heads and long tails. They have sharp, stout teeth that can rip through flesh easily. Their curved canine teeth can have a crown height of up to 3.5 inches. Tigers are apex predators, however their numbers are in steep decline due to habitat destruction and poaching. Tigers have always been praised for their strength and unique markings. They feature prominently in ancient folklore, mythology, literature and modern films. They are often incorporate into symbols of national pride, and sporting teams often use tigers as their mascots.
Tigers are strong swimmers with an affinity for water. They can cross rivers over 4 miles across and are capable of swimming up to 18 miles in one day. They can even capture and carry prey through the water. When running on land, tigers can run in short bursts of speed that reach up to 40 miles per hour. Tigers are known to prey on such large animals as deer, wild boars, buffalo, bears, antelopes and monkeys. They have even been known to occasionally attack and kill fully grown elephants and rhinoceros. They are mainly nocturnal predators who ambush their prey by overpowering them and knocking them off balance. At that point they latch onto the throats of their prey with their teeth.
After a kill, tigers will usually drag their meal to a concealed space by pulling it with their mouths. Once, a tiger was observed dragging a huge carcass of an adult guar over a distance of 39 feet. Afterwards, 13 men worked together to try and drag the same carcass. They were unsuccessful at moving it. Tigers have also been known to carry twice their own body weight ten feet up a tree.
Gorillas are the largest living primate by size. They are also the third-closest living relatives to humans, after chimpanzees and bonobos. Gorillas can grow to nearly 6 feet tall with an arm span that stretches up to 8.5 feet. They can weigh up to 500 pounds in the wild, while obese gorillas in captivity can reach weights of 600 pounds.
Adult gorillas are believed to be about six times stronger than adult humans in terms of upper body strength. There is no definitive answer to how strong a gorilla is. However, one gorilla in captivity was recorded as having lifted over 1,500 pounds with one arm! Just like humans, gorillas have 32 adult teeth in their mouth. A big difference is that their canine teeth can grow up to 2 inches long. These canine teeth help them to chew their diet of coarse plants and also to intimidate any foes. When on the move, gorillas can reach speeds of 20-25 miles per hour, very impressive considering their enormous size.
4. African Elephant
The African Elephant is the world’s largest animal, and also among the world’s most intelligent animals. They have massively thick bodies, stocky legs, and enormous ears. They stand up to 13 feet tall at shoulder height and can weigh over 13,000 pounds. Their ivory tusks alone can weigh up to 100 pounds and can grow up to 8 feet long. They are used for digging, moving objects, and sparing with each other to establish dominance. Unfortunately, ivory is also prized by poachers.
An elephant’s trunk alone has approximately 100,000 different muscles. To understand how impressive that is, consider that the entire human body contains less than 800 individual muscles!
An elephant’s trunk acts as a fifth limb and a sound amplifier. It also helps to collect roots, grasses, fruits and bark that are used for food. This is an important tool considering that adult elephants can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a day. The 100,000 muscles in an elephant’s trunk make them incredibly strong. Elephants can use their trunks to deliver devastating blows to their enemies in self-defense, tear down heavy branches for food, and even uproot an entire tree trunk. Amazingly, an elephant’s trunk is also able to detect and distinguish smells at a rate that is several hundred times better than dogs. This is due to the many sensory organs that are located throughout the entire trunk.
3. Leafcutter Ant
There are 47 different species of leafcutter ants, all of which are prevalent in Central and South America, Mexico, and some parts of the United States. Over the course of just a few years, the underground nests of leafcutters can grow close to 100 feet across. When you include the smaller radiating nests that are part of these colonies, they can grow to almost 6,500 square feet. A nest like this would contain over eight million leafcutter ants!
Amazingly, these tiny ants are second only to humans in terms of having formed both the largest animal community and the most complex animal community found on Earth. Part of their power stems from their social systems. The ants are divided into castes based on their size, and each caste is tasked with performing a different function. Some care for fungus gardens, some cut leaves and bring the pieces back to the nest, some patrol the nest and ferociously attack enemies, and some act as soldiers who defend the nest, clear trails, and carry heavy items back to the nest.
Leafcutter ants are amazingly strong given their small size. Part of their strength lies in their body composition. The Atta species have three pairs of spines and the Acromyrmex species have four pairs of spines. Leafcutter ants use their huge jaw muscles and mandibles to cut leaves into smaller, more manageable portions. Although most workers end up carrying a weight that is about three times their body weight, they have the capability to lift and carry items that are up to 50 times their own body weight. To put that into perspective, imagine a human lifting a truck with his teeth!
Leafcutter ants also have the potential to provide powerful anti-cancer drugs for humans. Each leafcutter ant has a bacteria that lives on their outer surface which acts as an antibiotic to protect against infections. Some of the antibiotics that they produce exhibit strong activity toward drug-resistant cancer cells. This could have huge implications for discovering new, more effective types of chemotherapy drugs.
2. Rhinoceros Beetle
There are over 300 species of rhinoceros beetles known to man. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. The largest rhinoceros beetles can grow to over 6 inches in length! The aptly named Hercules Beetles are capable of lifting up to 850 times their own weight! To put that in perspective, try to imagine giving a piggy-back ride to 850 people at once. Or imagine lifting 9 fully grown male elephants. When thought of in those terms, the strength of the rhinoceros beetle is truly awe-inspiring.
Rhinoceros beetles have a thick exoskeleton and wings, although they are not very effective flyers due to their large size. Male rhinoceros beetles have horn-like projections on and around their heads. They cannot bite or sting, so they avoid the few predators they have by hiding under logs or in vegetation, protecting themselves from being found through camouflage. However, they don’t have many predators because of their large size and stature. When they are in danger, their incredible strength paired with their horns allow them to quickly dig themselves into soil and leaf litter to escape. When rhinoceros beetles are disturbed, they emit a hissing squeak that is the result of rubbing their wing covers and their abdomen together.
1. Dung Beetle
The dung beetle is the world’s strongest insect. When talking about proportional strength, the dung beetle is also far and away the strongest animal on the planet.
Scientists in London conducted an experiment and found that Onthophagus Taurus dung beetles could pull an astonishing 1,141 times their own body weight. For the experiment, researchers tried to simulate the beetle’s natural environment. Then, by simply gluing a piece of thread to the beetle’s back and pulling on it, researcher’s activated the beetle’s instinct to fight back and pull in the opposite direction. They measured the strength they pulled using a pulley and water, and recorded the amazing feat. To put it in perspective, if a human were to pull 1,142 times their own body weight, they would have to pull six full double-decker buses!
The strength of dung beetles is even more impressive when you realize that, true to their names, they feed on dung or feces. One type of beetle rolls the dung into balls for use as a food source, others bury the dung wherever they find it, and others are dwellers who simply live in manure.
New research shows that dung beetles can actually navigate via the Milky Way. They are the first and only known species in the animal kingdom to do this. By orienting themselves with the Milky Way, dung beetles are able to move in a straight line, making the quickest exit away from the dung pile with their personal ball of food. This quick exit strategy is to prevent others from stealing their ball.
There are 10,000 new species of animals discovered on Earth every year. Research suggests that a staggering 86 percent of of species on land still have yet to be discovered, described, and categorized. For all we know, a new discovery could soon shake up this list as we discover even stronger, more powerful insects and animals. Unfortunately, some of the animals on this list are endangered, and we must hope that conservation efforts are successful so that they don’t have to be removed from a list like this. Some of the world’s strongest known animals are no longer in existence today. Dinosaurs like the Brachiosaurus or Supersaurus would likely top any list devoted to animal strength if they were still in existence today.