Top 10 Biggest Animals That Ever Walked the Earth

Written by Rebecca Bales
Updated: September 26, 2023
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Key Points

  • Most of the biggest animals to ever inhabit the earth are extinct, but a few that are still alive today include the elephant, polar bear, and blue whale.
  • The largest insect ever known to exist was an aquatic scorpion called a Jaekelopterus which could get up to 9 feet long — the stuff nightmares are made of.
  • The Shastasaurus, which inhabited the ocean 200 million years ago, was the biggest marine reptile, the largest known one being over 60 feet long.
  • The Argentinosaurus, believed to be the largest dinosaur to ever walk the earth, weighed up to 20 tons and had a size comparable to the width of an American football field.

If you’ve ever seen an elephant or a giraffe up close, you know those animals can seem massive, but would you believe that some of the animals which have roamed this planet would make even the elephant look minuscule in comparison?

Have you ever wondered what the largest animal to ever live on land is? How about the biggest animal to ever live in the ocean? As you might imagine, prehistoric creatures could fill out a list all by themselves, but we are going to break it down by species and diet to make it a little more interesting.

Below we have compiled a list of the longest, tallest and heaviest animals ever to walk the Earth.

Infographic of 10 Biggest Animals That Ever Walked the Earth
The Blue Whale is considered the largest and heaviest animal ever known to exist.
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#10 Jaekelopterus

The Jaekelopterus is the biggest arthropod ever known, reaching a length of about 8 feet.

©Ghedoghedo / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

An aquatic scorpion that lived about 460 million years ago, the Jaekelopterus was a sea creature that reached a length of around three yards, making it the largest insect ever known to exist.

Can you imagine an insect being nine feet long? Its exact weight is unknown, but since it was longer than an adult male human being is tall, we can guess it likely had an average weight of a similar range to humans.

#9 Elephant

Biggest Animal Ever to Walk the Earth: Elephant

Elephants, one of the biggest animals, reach up to 12 feet tall, weigh 12,000 pounds, and are constantly eating!

©Maggy Meyer/Shutterstock.com

It may not top the list, but the largest herbivorous land mammal currently alive is still the elephant. There are several species of elephant, and the largest can reach heights of up to 12 feet and weigh up to 12,000 pounds.

The largest elephant on record was an adult male African savanna elephant, the specimen weighed a staggering 24,000 pounds and was a whopping 13 feet tall.

Many people think the Wooly Mammoth was a bigger animal, but they were really about the same size as modern African Elephants, they just had a lot more fur and much bigger tusks.

#8 Polar Bear

Biggest Animal Ever to Walk the Earth: Polar Bear

Polar bears, the biggest land predator, are excellent swimmers and propel themselves through the water with their front paws.

©Louise Ekeblad/Shutterstock.com

The biggest land predator animal currently alive is the Polar Bear. These massive arctic creatures can grow to be over eight feet tall.

They weigh about one-tenth as much as the largest elephant, or about 1,300 pounds. One interesting fact about them is that they aren’t actually white.

Their fur is actually clear and their skin is black! Unfortunately, these bears have a conservation status of vulnerability and could be extinct within the next 30 years if climate change continues unchecked.

#7 Chinese Giant Salamander

Biggest Animal Ever to Walk the Earth: Chinese Giant Salamander

Chinese Giant Salamanders, the biggest amphibian, live in muddy river bottoms and hide in rock crevices.

©tristan tan/Shutterstock.com

The largest amphibian currently alive is the Chinese Giant Salamander. These animals are about the same size as the average human lying down, growing just under six feet in length and weighing just over 110 pounds.

These salamanders live underwater and breathe through their skin! Their numbers are dwindling, however, and their conservation status is Critically Endangered.

#6 Spinosaurus

Biggest Animal Ever to Walk the Earth: Spinosaurus

The Spinosaurus, the biggest land predator of all time, had a mouth similar to a crocodile’s, and it had straight teeth like knives.

©Mercury Green/Shutterstock.com

The title of largest land predator that ever walked on Earth goes to the Spinosaurus. This meat-eating dinosaur lived about 90-100 million years ago.

It was about 60 feet long, 12 feet high, weighed at least 13 to 22 tons and had a skull roughly 6 feet long. The Spinosaurus got its name from the massive spikes that ran down its spine.

Its head was shaped much like a crocodile‘s, though much, much bigger.

#5 Shastasaurus

Biggest Animal Ever to Walk the Earth: Shastasaurus

The Shastasaurus, the biggest marine reptile, was about the size of a modern

sperm whale

.

©Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com) / CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Shastasaurus is the largest known marine reptile that ever existed. This carnivore lived in the ocean 200 million years ago and fed primarily on squid.

The largest was over 60 feet long. Even the Shastasaurus’s ribcage was almost seven feet across!

#4 Paraceratherium

Paraceratherium

Paraceratherium became extinct when central Asian forests were replaced by grassland habitats.

©iStock.com/MR1805

The largest land mammal was a herbivore related to the modern rhinoceros, only much taller and without a horn. The Paraceratherium was about 16 feet high and 24 feet long, and its diet was mainly the leaves of tall trees.

It is thought to have weighed nearly 45,000 pounds, which means it must have eaten a lot of leaves! Scientists believe it had a prehensile upper lip or a trunk, which it probably used to pull the leaves from tall tree branches.

#3 Patagotitan mayorum

Biggest Animals Ever to Walk the Earth: Patagotitan mayorum

Patagotitan mayorum is the biggest dinosaur, and weighed nearly 70 tons, which is heavier than 10 adult African elephants!

©Basilio Dovgun/Shutterstock.com

Patagotitan mayorum is arguably the largest dinosaur ever found. This titanosaur was a herbivorous dinosaur that lived about 100 million years ago, with a very long neck and a very long tail. The Patagotitan’s fossils were first found in Argentina in 2012.

This recently discovered dinosaur measured over 120 feet long from head to tail, which is about 40 feet longer than the Diplodocus, previously thought to be the longest dinosaur.

Patagotitan had an estimated weight of around 75 tons. That’s as much as a space shuttle!

#2 Argentinosaurus

Biggest Animal Ever to Walk the Earth: Argentinosaurus

The Argentinosaurus, one of the biggest dinosaurs, was almost the same size as the width of an American football field. 

©anastas_styles/Shutterstock.com

The Argentinosaurus was also discovered in Argentina, back in the 1980s. Based on the bones that have been found, it was about the same length as the Patagotitan.

However, some researchers claim that by their estimates, the Argentinosaurus likely weighed as much as 20 tons more than the Patagotitan, making it one of the largest ever!

There is one almost mythical dinosaur that could beat out the Argentinosaurus if more evidence is found. Fossils of the Bruhathkayosaurus, which were found in India, included a limb, hip, and tail, and estimates of its size were over 115 feet long and a weight of 80 tons. That could qualify it to be the biggest animal to ever live on land.

However, the fossils, which were written about in 1987, have since disintegrated.

#1 Blue Whale

Biggest Animals Ever to Walk the Earth: Blue Whale

The Blue Whale, the biggest mammal of all time, have loud, deep voices and can communicate with other whales hundreds of miles away. 

©Rich Carey/Shutterstock.com

Strictly speaking, the largest mammal ever on Earth doesn’t walk, it swims, but no biggest animal list would be complete without the massive Blue Whale, considered the largest animal to ever live, as well as the heaviest animal ever known to exist.

Though it rarely happens now due to fishing of the larger specimens, the Blue Whale can reach a length of up to 110 feet.

These creatures have absolutely massive hearts. It’s the biggest heart out of any other mammal in the animal kingdom. It weighs about 400 pounds in itself and can be roughly the size of a small car. As the blue whale dives deeper into the depths of the sea, its heart will only beat twice per minute.

These water mammals can weigh as much as 200 tons, an equivalent to nearly 400,000 pounds, and more than twice as much as the largest dinosaur.

Sadly, these whales are listed as endangered by the World Wildlife Fund.

What Are The Smallest Animals on Earth?

In contrast to some of the largest animals that have ever walked the earth, here is a small list of some of the smallest mammals in the animal kingdom.

Some of the smallest animals on Earth include:

  • Paedocypris fish (7.9 millimeters)
  • Etruscan shrew (3.5 centimeters)
  • Bumblebee bat (9 grams)
  • Fairyfly (200 micrometers)
  • Paedogryllus cricket (2.0 millimeters).

Summary of the 10 Biggest Animals That Ever Walked the Earth

Let’s review the 10 truly amazing animals that were massive giants in their time on Earth:

RankBiggest Animals
1Blue Whale
2Argentinosaurus
3 Patagotitan Mayorum
4Paraceratherium
5Shastasaurus
6Spinosaurus
7Chinese Giant Salamander
8Polar Bear
9Elephant
10Jaekelopterus

Bonus: The Biggest Animals That Ever Swam on Earth

Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon)

Megalodons are an extinct species of sharks that grew to more than 50 feet in length.

©Warpaint/Shutterstock.com

While the Megalodon, Colossal Squid, and Bowheaded Whale never technically walked the Earth. They did and some still do swim in it’s vast oceans!

Here are some bonus large aquatic mammals:

Fully grown adult megalodons typically averaged about 33.5 feet in length, with the largest individuals reaching an impressive 58.7 feet. Nonetheless, certain scientists argue that the most massive megalodons could have reached lengths of up to 82 feet.

The colossal squid has the potential to grow even larger than the giant squid, with recorded lengths reaching up to 45 feet.

Bowhead whales are characterized by their large, robust physique, differing significantly from the sleeker profiles of most other baleen whales. These mighty creatures can attain lengths of up to 60 feet and tip the scales at over 120,000 pounds.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © AmeliAU/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Rebecca is an experienced Professional Freelancer with nearly a decade of expertise in writing SEO Content, Digital Illustrations, and Graphic Design. When not engrossed in her creative endeavors, Rebecca dedicates her time to cycling and filming her nature adventures alongside her supportive partner. When not focused on her passion for creating and crafting optimized materials, she harbors a deep fascination and love for cats, jumping spiders, and pet rats.

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