Animals come in all shapes, sizes, and types, so when trying to understand what the largest animals are it’s important to specify exactly how we define “largest”, and which types of animals we’re looking at.
Are we looking at the tallest, longest, heaviest of all animals? Or focussing specifically on the biggest land animals, largest living animals, or including all the largest animals that have ever lived on earth, at any time?
This page focuses on listing and describing the largest animals by size and category. The first section lists the largest animals by type, and the second section type lists the 10 largest land animals alive today by weight.
In terms of absolute size, the blue whale is not only the largest living animal, but also the largest animal that has ever existed – reaching a length of around 30 meters, and a weight of around 180 tons. A blue whale heart alone can weigh as much as a car, and their tongue as much as an elephant. Newborn blue whales weigh around 3 tons, and the biggest blue whale ever recorded was an astonishing 190 tons!
The largest animal on land is the African bush elephant (one of two African elephant species, along with the African forest elephant), which can grow to 4.5 meters tall at the shoulder, six meters long, and weigh up to 6,000 kg. These enormous beasts are currently listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and one of Africa’s endangered animals.