Super-sized animals: Giant snails, huge penguins and whopping whales!

Last updated at 08:54
giant-salamanderBen Tapley/ZSL
The South China giant salamander may be the biggest amphibian in the world according to a new study

Scientists have identified a new amphibian which is thought to be the largest in the world.

Before the study, the giant salamanders of China were already known to be the largest amphibians on the planet.

The animals, which are endangered, can grow to lengths of more than five feet and researchers believed them to be a single species.

However, new research of museum specimens shows that Chinese giant salamanders are in fact not just one - but three different species! The largest has been given a new name Andrias sligoi or the South China giant salamander.

giant-salamander-museum-specimenHarry Taylor / NHM Image Resources
The museum specimen used to help make the discovery can be seen at London's Natural History Museum

"We hope that this new understanding of their species diversity has arrived in time to support their successful conservation, but urgent measures are required to protect any viable giant salamander populations that might remain," said Prof Samuel Turvey, who was one of the lead authors of the study.

Want to find out more about super-sized animals? Check out these other big discoveries!

1. Preposterous penguin
giant-penguin-modelCanterbury Museum

Is this the largest penguin to have lived? Scientists found a fossil of a species of mega-penguin in New Zealand, nicknamed 'kumimanu', meaning 'monster bird', in the Maori language.

Experts believe that, when it was alive, the bird would have stood around 1.6m tall, about the same height as a human!

The fossils are thought to be around 56 million to 60 million years old.

2. Pretty-huge parrot
big-parrotPA Media
The ancient bird is thought to have been around half the size of a human!

Scientists have found fossils of the largest parrot EVER.

The big bird would have lived in New Zealand about 19 million years ago.

Before the recent discovery, the kakapo was thought to have been the largest bird in the parrot family.

However, experts think this ancient parrot would have stood at about one metre tall and weighed over one stone - that's twice as much as the kakapo!

3. Stupendous snake

Get a load of this next slippery character!

Officials at a wildlife reserve in south Florida in the US captured the largest python ever found in the park.

The female python is more than 17ft long, which is about the same as two and a half Peter Crouches!

It weighed 63kg and was found in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

4. Super-sized snail

Have you ever seen ANYTHING like it?

A picture of this enormous snail went viral on social media.

People shared their amazed reactions, with some wondering what the animal is.

I can't decide whether that is totally gross or the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

Well, it is in fact a giant African land snail. It is one of the world's largest species of snail and can grow to about 20cm long.

They feed on more than 500 types of plant and can even eat through plaster walls, so you certainly don't want to have one wander unexpectedly into your house.


In fact, they are considered to be one of the most invasive species in the world because of their ability to munch through almost anything and to reproduce a lot.

They originally come from Africa, but can now be found in China, India, South East Asia, the Caribbean, Brazil, Florida and Venezuela.

5. Gigantic alligator
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WATCH: Take a look at this enormous alligator going for a walk in Florida

Check out this massive alligator as it goes for a stroll in a US animal reserve.

Only a small group of people were lucky enough to see the huge beast in Florida, which was named Humpback.

Wildlife experts estimated the alligator weighed about than 360kg and was up to 15ft long. That's as long as a family estate car!

6. Huge horse
Big-jake-tallest-horse.Guinness World Records
This enormous horse is called Big Jake, which seems very fitting!

This is the world's tallest horse and he's rather appropriately called Big Jake.

According to Guinness World Records, this nine-year-old is a Belgian Gelding horse.

When he was last measured for a record, he stood at just over 6ft 8 - and that's without even having his shoes on. You might need a ladder if you fancied going for a ride!

7. Sizeable shark

OK, so you won't come across this chap any time soon, but this is the megalodon - the biggest shark thought ever to have lived.

Megalodon.Karen Carr / Wikimedia
Scientists think the megalodon died out when its favourite type of food disappeared from our oceans

This fearsome, finned super-predator was swimming about in the oceans between around 2.3 and 16 million years ago.

Scientists think megalodons could grow up to around 59ft long, which is just shorter than two double-decker buses parked end to end.

As well as its giant body, it also had a very large mouth.


Scientists think it hunted smaller sea-dwellers, like the prehistoric Eobalaenoptera whales in the coloured picture above.

Even Eobalaenoptera themselves were pretty massive. They could grow to an impressive 35 feet, which is as big as a tennis court.

8. Colossal canine
Zeus-the-great-dane.Guinness World Records
Zeus the dog was described by his owners as a gentle giant and even worked as a therapy dog in hospitals and schools where he lived in America

Imagine taking this for a quick stroll! Zeus is the tallest recorded dog ever to have lived.

He was an amazing 111.8cm tall, which is about the same height as a donkey. When standing up on his back legs, he was over 7 ft tall!

This gentle giant weighed about the same as an average 5ft 11 inch tall man, so certainly stood out from the crowd when it came to his canine companions.

Sadly, he passed away of old age in 2014, but he still holds on to his title.

9. Phenomenal feline
Ludo-the-cat.Guinness World Records
Although Ludo is the biggest cat on earth right now, he isn't the longest cat ever, falling 5cm short of the title which is held by another Maine Coon called Stewie, who sadly passed away in 2013

This colossal cat is Ludo - the longest cat in the world!

Ludo is a Maine Coon, which is a breed of cat known for their size. Ludo measures a huge 118.33cm and - as you can see from the picture - he is certainly a big creature to try to cuddle!

His owner Kelsey uses a dog carrier when they travel because he won't fit into one designed for cats.

She said it's great having a big cat because she never has trouble finding him around the house. Hide and seek anyone?!

10. Whopping whales

We couldn't do a list of big animals without giving a mention to these creatures.

If you come across a blue whale, you're certainly going to know about it.
The biggest blue whale colony on Earth was in Antarctica but this suffered very heavily from hunting

Coming in at over 98 feet long - just longer than 3 double-decker buses parked end to end - and weighing over 160 tonnes, the blue whale is believed to be the largest animal ever to have existed on our planet.

They were lots of them in every ocean on Earth until hunting nearly brought them to extinction. A hunting ban started in 1966 and saved the species.

Today, there are thought to be from 10,000 to 25,000 of them, but because of their solitary nature it's difficult to know for sure exactly how many there are - despite their enormous size.

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