For many of us, it’s not unusual to encounter animals like pigeons or dogs as we go about our daily lives. But in certain corners of the world, there are some lurking beasts that appear as if they have been Photoshopped. Do not adjust your computer screens, however – these 20 crazily huge animals are the real deal.
20. Atlas moth
The atlas moth, which inhabits much of Southeast Asia, can have a wingspan of up to 12 inches. Almost as impressive as its size, however, is the fact that it reaches these proportions despite never eating after it reaches adulthood. So how does it survive? Well, it gorges on leaves as a caterpillar and then stores all of this energy to sustain it to the end of its life. Now that’s a meal to be thankful for.
19. Alligator snapping turtle
Found in freshwater rivers, lakes and swamps in the south-east United States, the alligator snapping turtle certainly is one vicious-looking beast. The shell can grow as long as 26 inches, and the animals each tip the scales at roughly 175 pounds. Intriguingly, too, their tongues feature a worm-like “lure” that they use to attract fish and frogs to their doom.
There are around 70 species of weta, but only 11 are classed as “giant.” At almost four inches in length apiece (excluding legs), these are some impressive insects. Previously, the native range of the giant weta stretched across New Zealand, but many species are now threatened and restricted to protected regions.
17. Giant Pacific octopus
Check out the size of this sucker! The 50-pound giant Pacific octopus can change color to communicate or camouflage itself and measures 15 feet across – although larger specimens have been recorded. Yet the animal has brains as well as brawn, and it will play, open jars and interact with humans. Awww.
16. African land snail
The native range of the African land snail is sub-Saharan Africa, but these critters have been introduced to other parts of the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are often considered an invasive pest owing to their voracious appetites. And, in case you were wondering, yes, you can eat them. Mmmm, giant escargot.
15. Giant clam
What you’re seeing in the foreground here is just the fleshy muscles on one enormous clam. At four feet in length apiece, these are the largest mollusks on the planet. And once they’ve found comfy spots on the Indo-Pacific seabed, they will stay there for their entire lives, quietly filtering plankton from the water. Legend claims that these animals can eat humans – but don’t worry, this is completely untrue… as long as you don’t put your hand inside one!
14. Chinese giant salamander
Looking for a slimy hug? This enormous beast, which lives in the streams and lakes of China, is the largest amphibian in the world, measuring as it does almost six feet in length. The Chinese giant salamander isn’t too fussy with its food, though, and will chow down on millipedes, crabs, fish and even unsuspecting water shrews.
13. Coconut crab
Nope, this image has not been manipulated. In fact, that’s the real size of a coconut crab. With a leg span of more than three feet and powerful claws, these animals are the biggest land-dwelling arthropods out there. They live in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans, where they feed on fruit and, you guessed it, coconuts.
12. Large flying fox
This cute Southeast Asian critter loves nothing better than snacking on fruit and nectar, which it slurps out of flowers using its long tongue. With a wingspan of nearly five feet, it’s one of the biggest bat species on Earth. Interestingly, the large flying fox does not echo-locate but, rather, relies on its good eyesight to navigate.
Tipping the scales at almost 5,000 pounds, the sunfish is the heaviest bony fish out there. And this is incredible, really, given that its favorite food is the watery ol’ jellyfish, which is hardly brimming with calories! Now these fish have a wide-ranging distribution, and although they like to investigate divers, they are actually totally harmless to humans.
10. Titan beetle
At over six inches in length each, titan beetles are real whoppers, and they’re not to be messed with, either. In fact, their powerful jaws can cut through a pencil, not to mention the skin and tendons of any human dumb enough to pick them up. Interestingly, the adults of these South American beetles do not eat, but their grubs will consume rotting wood. Delicious!
9. Giant freshwater stingray
Little is known about the giant freshwater stingray. What we do know, though, is that it measures up to 16.5 feet in length, can get as heavy as 1,320 pounds and inhabits rivers in Thailand, Borneo, New Guinea and Northern Australia. But learning more is difficult because habitat loss and overfishing is now endangering this majestic and mysterious fish.
8. Goliath frog
Gulp! The Goliath frog lives in western regions of Africa and will eat pretty much any animal that it can fit in its mouth. At up to 7.2 pounds, the amphibian is as heavy as some house cats! We’re not sure how we’d feel about it curling up on our knee, though…
7. Nomura’s jellyfish
This otherworldly jellyfish can reach over six feet in diameter and 450 pounds in weight – and what’s even more remarkable is that it achieves this bulk in just six months. Nomura’s jellyfish also travel in swarms, so these bad boys are often seen as a nuisance in the seas of Korea, Japan and China. Incredibly, back in 2009, a fishing boat’s net caught a dozen and capsized the vessel!
6. Giant earthworm
This massive invertebrate was snapped in the forests of Ecuador, and the photographer claimed that it was almost five feet in length. Yet while this worm is gigantic, scarily it’s by no means the biggest. In fact, one African species can purportedly achieve a length of 22 feet. Imagine going fishing with that beast!
5. Mekong catfish
The endangered Mekong catfish skulks in the waters of the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. As a fry, it gobbles up microscopic animals and will occasionally eat individuals of its own kind. Then, as an adult, it turns vegetarian and nibbles on algae instead. Even on a vegetarian diet, though, the fish can grow to an impressive 10 feet in length and weigh around 650 pounds.
4. Black sea hare
Nope, this isn’t something that’s been scraped off the bottom of a shoe; it’s a black sea hare. This humungous sea slug reaches lengths of 39 or so inches and lives on the seashore along the eastern Pacific, where it eats seaweed and kelp. Yum!
3. Giant millipede
This creepy beast from Africa may look fearsome, but it actually makes a great pet. Indeed, pet millipedes will nibble on melon, apple, tomatoes and all sorts of fruit and veggies – so they definitely get their five-a-day! A single one can grow to over 15 inches and has around 256 legs.
2. Giant isopod
Nope, it’s not an enormous pill bug; it’s a giant isopod and a distant relation of the likes of crabs and shrimps. These creepy-crawly crustaceans lurk in deep, chilly waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans – where they scavenge on dead creatures that have sunk to the sea floor.
1. Pink sea star
Bet you haven’t seen anything like this on your beach trips! Hailing from the Northeast Pacific, the pink sea star can measure two feet across. Oh, and weirdly, in order to eat its meals of shellfish, this sucker turns its stomach inside out through its mouth and then surrounds and entraps its prey. Lunch, anyone?