Nature's record breakers

Animal kingdom record breakers - how fast can a cheetah run, how heavy is an elephant and what's bigger than a dinosaur? Watch amazing video clips from the BBC archive and uncover the fascinating facts about our smallest primate, the longest stick insect and the most venomous snake. Meet the biggest, the fastest and the deadliest the natural world has to offer.

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39 video clips in this collection

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View all 39 video clips

Animals in this collection

  • Head of a African bush elephant African bush elephant

    African bush elephants are the largest living land mammals and the second tallest after...

  • Argentinosaurus standing at water's edge surrounded by dinosaur eggs in nests Argentinosaurus

    Argentinosaurus currently holds the record for being both the heaviest land animal ever,...

  • Atlantic sailfish at sea Atlantic sailfish

    Atlantic sailfish are found in tropical and temperate parts of the Atlantic Ocean,...

  • Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys in a snow covered tree Yunnan snub-nosed monkey

    Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys live at the highest altitude of any primate, except for...

  • Blue Whale swimming Blue whale

    Blue whales are the largest animals ever to have lived - bigger even than the largest of...

  • A group of hot vent crabs Hot vent crabs

    Hot vent crabs are only found around hydrothermal vents, hydrothermal seeps and...

  • Capybara sitting in wetlands Capybara

    Capybaras are the largest of the rodent species.

  • A sitting female cheetah looking alert Cheetah

    Cheetahs are found in sub-Saharan Africa and Northern Iran.

  • Doria's tree-kangaroo in a tree Doria's Tree-Kangaroo

    Doria's tree kangaroos are the heaviest tree-dwelling marsupials in the world.

  • The extinct flightless elephant bird lived in Madagascar until around the 16th century. Elephant birds

    Madagascar's giant, flightless elephant birds were once a common sight on the island,...

  • A Galápagos giant tortoise walking Galápagos giant tortoise

    Galápagos giant tortoises were studied by Charles Darwin when he made his famous visit...

  • Giant anteater running on grassland Giant anteater

    Giant anteaters, as the name suggests are the largest of their family, and equipped with...

  • Giant tube worms Giant tube worm

    Giant tube worms grow to over 2 metres long and inhabit the hot waters around...

  • Goliath bird-eating spider on a log Goliath bird-eating spider

    Goliath bird-eating spiders are

  • Male great bustard in field Great bustard

    Great bustards are quite possibly the heaviest flying birds in the world.

  • Portrait of an elderly man smiling Human

    Humans are in the same great ape family as the chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans -...

  • Inland taipan in sandy burrow Inland taipan

    Australia's inland taipan is...

  • Negro ant tending aphids Insects

    The insects are one of the most successful types of living organism, with roughly half...

  • Madame Berthe's mouse lemur on a branch in Madagascan forest at night Madame Berthe's mouse lemur

    The minute Madame Berthe's mouse lemur is believed to be the world's smallest living...

  • A cicada swarm covering a tree Periodical cicadas

    Large numbers of periodical cicadas emerge from the ground every few years, instead of a...

  • A giant millipede Millipedes

    Millipedes are a common class of arthropod with over 10,000 named species.

  • Portrait of a russet mouse lemur holding on to a branch Mouse lemurs

    Mouse lemurs, like all the other lemurs, are native to Madagascar.

  • Giant stick insects perched on grass Stick insects

    Stick insects use camouflage and mimicry to great effect.

  • Two colourful dyeing poison arrow frogs touching noses Poison dart frogs

    Poison dart frogs are so named because their poisonous secretions have been used by...

  • Polar bear walking through wind-blown snow at sunset Polar bear

    Remarkable adaptations allow polar bears to live in the frozen

  • Close up of pompeii worms Pompeii worm

    Pompeii worms live in the hot water around hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean and...

  • Pygmy parrot perched on a flower Pygmy parrots

    Pygmy parrots, as their name suggests, are the smallest members of the parrot family and...

  • Flock of red-billed quelea flying Red-billed quelea

    Red-billed queleas are a kind of weaver bird and form flocks which can contain thousands...

  • Kangaroo hopping lying on dry grassland Red kangaroo

    Red kangaroos are iconic symbols of the Australian outback, and are the largest living...

  • Ruppell's griffon vulture Ruppell's vulture

    Ruppell's vultures, named after a German explorer, are large African vultures.

  • A sea otter floating on its back Sea otter

    Sea otters are one of the largest otter species.

  • Sperm whales coming up to the sea surface to breathe Sperm whale

    The mighty sperm whale is a multiple record-breaker.

  • Indian tarantula climbing over a log Tarantulas

    Tarantulas have large, hairy bodies that make them the stuff of nightmares for many, but...

  • Tisza mayfly on a leafy branch Tisza mayfly

    The giant or Tisza mayfly is Europe's largest species of mayfly.

  • Wandering albatross in the water Wandering albatross

    Wandering albatrosses hold the record for the bird with the largest wingspan, with some...

  • A whale shark Whale shark

    Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, with the longest ever recorded at over...

Plants in this collection

  • A bristlecone pine branch Great Basin bristlecone pine

    Great Basin bristlecone pines are restricted to the mountain ranges of California,...

  • Looking up the trunk of a giant sequoia Giant sequoia

    In terms of volume, giant sequoias may be the largest living things on the planet.

  • A giant titan arum flower Titan arum

    Titan arums are true giants amongst flowering plants: the circumference of their huge...

Habitats in this collection

  • Black smoke billows out of a deep ocean hydrothermal vent Hydrothermal vents

    Hydrothermal vents - black smokers, white smokers and warm water vents - are areas on...

  • A lake in the mountains Lakes and ponds

    From the smallest pond (1m square) to the largest lake, this biome provides many...

  • Coral reef split level on the Philippines Shallow seas

    Shallow seas cover the continental shelves.

Adaptations in this collection

  • The strawberry poison arrow frog showing red colour Warning colours

    Warning colours (aposematism) describes colouration and other markings that send a...

  • Green sea turtle swimming underwater Adapted to swimming

    Adaptations for swimming enables animals to move around in water.

  • Courtship display

    Courtship displays are performed by animals seeking to advertise their willingness to...

  • Arctic tern in flight Adapted to flying

    Flying, in its true sense, is the ability to move through the air under your own power...

  • Kangaroo hopping over dry grassland Adapted to jumping

    Jumping is a method some animals have evolved to get around efficiently.

  • Japanese macaque cuddling her two-week-old baby Maternal care

    Maternal care is where the mother of the offspring provides most or all of the effort...

  • Tadpole sitting on a leaf Metamorphosis

    Metamorphosis is when a species changes body shape and structure at a particular point...

  • Cat fleas amongst cat fur Parasitic

    Parasitic organisms have a close relationship with another organism, which they use...

  • Strawberry poison-dart frog sitting on leaf Poisonous

    Poisonous animals contain or secrete toxins and need to be touched or eaten to...

  • Andean emerald hummingbird feeding at a yellow flower Pollinator

    Pollinators carry pollen from plant to plant and, often unwittingly, play a crucial role...

  • Long-beaked common dolphins circling a sardine baitball Predator

    Predators are creatures that catch and kill other animals for food.

  • Cold tolerant

    Cold tolerant organisms have evolved various methods for coping with very low...

  • Grizzly bear running through water Adapted to running

    Running and walking evolved as a method of getting around when life emerged from water...

  • Black-backed jackal tearing at a carcass Scavenger

    Scavengers are those carnivorous animals that eat carrion (already dead animals) rather...

  • Sockeye salmon swimming over dead salmon at spawning ground Semelparous

    Semelparous organisms reproduce only once in their lives and then die.

  • Two frogs mating surrounded by eggs Spawning

    Spawning animals deposit a mass of eggs and sperm in water, where they meet and are...

  • Banded mongoose foraging for parasites on skin of a warthog Symbiotic

    Symbiosis is a relationship between two organisms that's beneficial to one (commensal)...

  • Heat tolerant

    Heat tolerant animals and plants have special adaptations for survival in hot places.

  • Greater horseshoe bat flying at night towards camera Echolocation and ultrasound

    Ultrasound is high frequency sound that's above the range of human hearing.

  • Venom dripping out of a prairie rattlesnake Venomous

    Venomous organisms inflict poisonous wounds by actively biting, stinging or scratching...

  • Common dolphin with a newborn calf that is still showing foetal folds Viviparous

    Viviparous animals bear live young that have developed inside the mother's body.