Ocean Dwelling Dynamos

Pictured: Your mom
Pictured: Your mom

The seven seas are teeming with life. The last true undiscovered country on Earth, the deepest depths of the ocean may yet hold immense lifeforms we’ve never seen. Thanks to the buoyancy water affords to those creatures that live in it, the oceans are home to the largest animals in the world.

The blue whale blows away any challengers by a large margin. Full-grown specimens can top out at upwards of 100 feet long and can weigh up to 150 tons. To give this animal’s size some perspective, its heart alone weighs an average of 1,300 pounds. That’s around the same weight as a full grown cow. What could possibly compete with that?

Well, if you prefer your gigantic water dwellers sans vertebrae, then you can always turn to the colossal squid. Best estimates put adult specimens between 40 and 45 feet long. That puts it at about half the size of a blue whale. Humpback whales should take note, though. They are about the same length, and are known to have scars that are believed to have been caused by the colossal squid.

A tad bit squishier, and a lot less deadly, is the lion’s mane jellyfish. The largest discovered was a mere 7.5 feet in diameter, but sported tentacles that measured an impressive 120 feet long. That’s longer than the blue whale up there. Despite it’s impressive size, its sting would be no more annoying than a mosquito bite to our other two seafaring giants.

Plants Are Awesome, Too

Poor conversationalists, but very beautiful.
Poor conversationalists, but very beautiful.

It occurred to me that I’ve been giving animals a whole lot of loving while completely ignoring the leafy side of the coin. Plants can be just as lovable as puppies and kittens! Well, mostly… Regardless, here’s to some mighty massive plants!

Trees are an obvious place to start when it comes to record size and staying power. These plus-size plants manage to reach their epic heights by growing over the course of dozens, if not hundreds of years. But just like with animals, there’s always overachievers.

The current oldest living tree is Old Tjikko in Switzerland. It was born approximately 9,550 years ago. To put this into perspective, it was born a mere fourteen years after Atlantis sank into the sea(according to legend.) As is often the case with the geriatric set, this tree’s a little on the short side.  The ancient specimen stands a paltry sixteen feet tall.

Not surprisingly, the record for tallest living tree goes to Hyperion, a redwood tree in Northern California. It stands at an astounding height of 379 feet, equivalent to a 31-story building. Despite it’s amazing stature, Hyperion is believed to be between 700 and 800 years old.

So we have the oldest, and the tallest, but what about the largest overall?

That record goes to General Sherman, a 2,100 year-old Giant Sequoia that can be found appropriately enough in Sequoia National Park in California(what is it about that state, anyway?) The good General is a good hundred feet shorter than Hyperion, but is over 27 feet wide. The bark itself is believed to be up to two feet thick in places! The estimated weight for this behemoth?  4,000,000 pounds.