Pop on your wet suit, dive mask, flippers and oxygen tank and head into the deep dark depths of the ocean. There you will find all sorts of fascinating creatures, many larger than yourself. You will need to be prepared, however, because several may consider you a tasty snack! From the shark that is seldom encountered alive to an eight-armed Japanese monster of the deep, here are 15 GIANT Animals You Didn’t Know Existed.
15- Frilled Shark
I don’t know about you, but the very thought of meeting up with a shark keeps me out of the ocean. With thoughts of their razor-sharp teeth racing through my head, I’ll happily leave these encounters to someone else thanks!
Aside from its frightening appearance, the Frilled Shark is known as a ‘living fossil’.
It lives in the deep, dark depths of the ocean floor, and closely resembles Lord Voldemort’s deadly snake companion Nagini from the Harry Potter series. With a head like a lizard and a body like an eel, this thing is ugly!
Not much is known about the Frilled Shark, even why it is called one.
At first glance, you wouldn’t think it was a shark, however, it is recommended as one because of its internal structure.
Gills around its throat make it look more like a sea serpent, and the red fringe around them is what led to its name.
A monster of a creature, it has 300 teeth, aligned in 25 rows. And if that’s not weird enough, they all face backwards! It must make eating difficult.
Not only that, but they also lack fins, meaning they hover, rather than swim. Now that I would love to see – from a safe distance of course.
“Even though Frilled Sharks aren’t the biggest animals in the world, do consider the size of it in this picture! Compare the kid to this horrifying looking thing. It’s pretty gigantic if you ask me. If I ever see one while swimming, then considered me gone…
14- Giant Squid
With so many supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons in Japanese folklore, a surprise visitor on Christmas Eve, 2015 had residents wondering if their eyes were deceiving them.
A real-life sea monster was spotted by visitors chilling out on a pier overlooking the water in Toyama Bay in Central Japan.
Measuring 12-foot-long, the ‘monster’ was a giant red-and-white squid taking a quick dip in the bay, much to the visitor’s surprise.
It turns out that, although, giant, the little chap was merely a juvenile squid and at almost 4 meters, quite small considering they can grow up to 13 meters!
Giant squids normally spend their lives in the depts of the open ocean, so to be able to get up close and personal to one was more of a treat than a terrifying experience.
In fact, they are normally found washed up on the shore, after they have died.
In 2004 and 2012, Japanese researchers were able to get images of these live giants, by luring them up to the camera. However, the researchers had to make the journey several thousand feet below the surface.
One of the Toyama Bay visitors was diver Akinobu Kimura. He simply jumped in the water with his submersible camera and obtained video footage that has been described as the most detailed and up-close viewing of a live giant squid yet!
A bold move, Kimura lived to tell the tale, saying his curiosity was way bigger than his fear.
Luckily it all turned out well for both diver and squid, with the giant fellow disappearing out to see not long after the encounter.
13- The Chinese giant salamander
What looks like an oversized Mexican walking fish, the Chinese giant salamander is so critically endangered it’s facing extinction.
The largest amphibian in the world, they grow up to 2 meters long and are very rare in the wild.
Millions are kept in captivity, but they’re not the easiest creature to look after.
There are three species, with the South China being the largest.
Each requires targeted and separate conservation management to save them from dying out altogether.
According to Zoologist Samuel Turvey of London, UK and his colleagues, those left in the wild must be located, and species-specific breeding programs introduced.
They have analyzed DNA taken from liver, muscle and bone samples of 41 of the salamanders to help them find out more about the mysterious species.
This genetic analysis showed that the three species were separated between 3.1 and 2.4 million years ago.
This period coincides with the rising up of the Tibetan Plateau which could have isolated the giant salamander population.
Today they are extensively moved around by Chinese farmers, making it difficult to determine their origin.
Of those caught in the wild, some may have escaped from farms or been deliberately released, but it is believed that the original population has been almost completely wiped out.
12- Nomura’s Jellyfish
Measuring almost 2 meters across and as heavy as a male lion, it’s hard to believe this jellyfish is just six months old!
The size of a child’s palm at first, the Nomura Jellyfish is now larger than an adult human.
With no bones to nourish, no complex organs to maintain and very little energy wasted on swimming, the Nomura Jellyfish’s sole purpose is to grow.
Drifting with the currents and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, this deadly creature prefers plankton to people, and is only responsible for the loss of eight human lives.
Because of their size, humans are not on the Nomura’s menu.
Although large, they have tiny mouths. And that’s plural, yes, these jellyfish have hundreds of mouths. Mouths so tiny, they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye.
Imagine how handy that would be at an all you can eat buffet!
Well known for their greed, the species costs Japanese fisheries serious damage each year, with many looking at ways to turn this invasion into a resource.
And the bad news is, these guys are multiplying. Their sudden population explosion has been linked to climate change and overfishing.
11- Blue Whale
The fact that these giant mammals are larger than dinosaurs doesn’t mean much really, considering none of us were alive to see the comparison, so let’s talk numbers instead.
An adult Blue Whale can weigh up to 190 ton and measure just over 30 meters long!
To put that into perspective, the largest mammal on earth is bigger than 25 elephants or 115 giraffes!
Today there are between 10,000 and 25,000 blue whales left in the ocean. This may sound a lot, but it is not enough to save them from extinction.
Until the end of the 19th century, Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth. Unfortunately, they were almost hunted to extinction by whalers until the practice was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1967. The Commission estimates that between 1868 and 1967, almost 400,000 blue whales had been caught in whalers’ nets.
Between the male and female, the female is the larger of the two. Their bodies, however, are long and slender, and instead of blue, as you would expect, they are a slighter darker shade of grayish blue on the top and somewhat lighter underneath.
With a diet that consists almost entirely of krill, the Blue whale obviously isn’t a fussy eater.
10- Giant Sea Lizard
With countless razor-sharp teeth and dull green eyes, this deep-sea predator would make a great addition to any horror movie!
Forget our mechanical shark friend Bruce from Jaws, this bottom-dwelling lizard fish has a reputation for making almost anything in its path, dinner.
The ocean is home to many spectacular sea urchins, including the beautiful purple orb, glowing UFO jellyfish and googly-eyed squid, but the giant sea lizard doesn’t care.
Not fussy, it devours them all and starts looking for more.
A rather bizarre species, at home in Australia’s eastern abyss, the sea lizard is an ambush predator, lying in wait for its unsuspecting prey.
Hunting at depths of between 3,000 to over 8,500 feet, this terrifying monster of the deep is largely just a mouth with a tail! And one bite from its razor-sharp hinged teeth, and there is no escape.
It eats anything and everything it comes across, including other lizard fish. Fortunately, they have both male and female reproductive organs so there are no issues when it comes to reproduction.
Whether this is good news or not, I will leave that up to you to decide.
To be honest, this fish doesn’t even look real! Not only is it extremely long, but it’s also really flat. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to navigate its own body, let alone the ocean!
This giant oarfish washed up in the Philippines in 2016, with many residents very excited by its beaching in Albay.
In fact, the locals were ecstatic, as it’s very rare to see an Oarfish because they don’t pop up very often.
These strange creatures resemble sea serpents, but much about them remains a true mystery of the deep.
The dead fish measured 4 meters long and weighed 50 kilograms, and while it is the longest Oarfish to hit Philippines shores, it is by no means the biggest ever seen.
In 2013, California’s Catalina Island played host to a 5.5-meter specimen that washed up dead on the beach, but the record stands at a whopping 11 meters!
Speculation is rife as to why they sporadically wash up dead on the shore. Some believe their unusual body shape means they are easily injured, where others suggest changing currents and the shifting distribution of their food source is to blame for forcing them to spend more time in the shallows.
8- World’s Biggest Bat
No, you’re not watching a scene from Hotel Transylvania, this is real life, and as scary as they appear, these bats are completely harmless.
The largest bat species in the world with a wingspan of a massive 1.5 meters across, the flying fox can be identified by their foxlike faces, long wings, large strong claws, and unique behavior.
Because they don’t wear deodorant like us humans, these bats have a distinctive body odor. But, unlike ours, there’s has a purpose. The special odor allows them to communicate with each other during the mating season.
When pregnant, the females form their own colony. They give birth after 40 days and in two to three months their pups are fully developed and left to fend for themselves.
They make parenting sound so easy!
Masters of disguise, the bats contrasting colors help them mingle with the environment, unseen by predators prying eyes, while they sleep throughout the day.
Mainly nocturnal, these enormous bats spend their evenings travelling, with most able to cover over 40 kilometers a night! They don’t spend the whole time flying, however, as they occasionally stop to find food.
The Flying Fox is mostly found in the tropical rain forests of the Philippines and East Asia, usually seeking the shelter of tall leafless trees and deep caves.
7- World’s Largest Eagle
Eagles are gracious birds of prey known for their strength, power, and persistence. Used as national symbols in many countries such as the United States and Japan, eagles can be found at the very top of the food chain. No surprises there!
Experts at hunting prey and surviving the harshest weather conditions, these heavily built birds have had scientists and researchers fascinated for years.
Now extinct, the Haast’s eagle was the biggest eagle in the world, with a wingspan of 3 meters.
It once lived in the southern islands of New Zealand and was one of the most ferocious predators of its time, preying on flightless birds like the Moa, which was up to 15 times its weight.
In fact, the continuous decline of these birds, led to the Haast’s extinction.
The giant eagle weighed up to 17.8 kg and was considered one of the largest known true raptors.
Today, the largest living eagle is the Golden Eagle that has a wingspan of up to 220 centimeters or 2.2 meters, considerably smaller than its giant ancestor.
6- World’s Biggest Dog
The alabai, and not the type that gets you out of a sticky situation, but the canine type, is a loyal friend and companion.
No real surprises there, but what you might not know, is that this special breed is one of the world’s biggest.
Weighing in at a whopping 120kg and standing at over 2 meters on its hind legs, this dog is larger than the average adult man!
With a history that dates back many thousands of years, the Alabai has adopted many traits from its ancestors, including its height and weight.
With a powerful physique, broad, well developed chest and large fangs, this dog presents an imposing figure. But don’t be fooled, it’s really just a big softie at heart.
Fiercely protective of their owners, they’re also patient and calm and don’t act rashly.
Popular guard dogs and working dogs, the Alabai is strong and fast, and has a keen eye that can accurately analyze a situation, making them perfect for protective duties.
5- The Redtail Catfish
With its only similarity to a cat, being the whisker-type features on its head, the catfish is a delicious-tasting river fish, mainly found in the Amazon.
In 2013, a Redtail Catfish was caught in the Illinois River, during the annual Hamm’s Breading & AAD Welding catfish tournament.
Fisherman Allen Hamm Jr. was at first confused by his unusual catch, texting one of the organizers asking, “What the heck is this?”
A fish expert was consulted and an ‘Amazon red-tailed catfish’ was the reply.
Said to reach weights of up to 180 pounds, the fish are easily recognized by the bright red markings on their tails and fins.
Believed to have come from somebody’s aquarium, the red-tailed catfish was a rare find, but it’s not the only time one of these big cats has been found in the U.S.
Others have been found in Florida, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, but the Amazon is considered the catfish capital of the world, with more turning up there than anywhere else.
In fact, there are over 3000 different species of fish that occur in the Amazon and almost half of them are catfish!
With 15 families, including over 1300 species, some Amazon catfish are bottom dwellers, some nocturnal. Some are parasites and some are roving predators, with the biggest caught, weighing a massive 134 kilograms!
Now that’s one big cat, even if it’s not of the four-legged variety.
4- Big Ben
A majestic creature with a mind of its own, there is nothing quite like the freedom owning a horse can provide. Simply saddle up, if you so choose, and ride off into the sunset.
But, imagine if our horse weighed 3,000 pounds. You would be hoping it was a docile chap, wouldn’t you?
Well this 6-year-old lad, co-owned by Sherrie Van Tassel and Charles Haddad, perfectly fits the bill.
Not only is he well loved by his owners, but he is also gentle and patient with children.
Big Ben lives at Haddad Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 2008 Sherrie and Charles took him to a plant in Canaan, Conn., where there is a platform, they weigh concrete trucks on.
Up steps Big Ben, and his owners were overjoyed with the result, joking they were trying to make him into a body builder.
At 3,000 pounds or 1360 kilograms, there is no mistaking this boy is big.
The Belgian gelding stands 19.2 hands at the shoulder, slightly shorter than the world’s tallest horse Radar, who at 10-years-old stands 19.3 hands, or 6-feet, 7-inches tall. Radar is, however, quite a lot lighter than Big Ben, weighing in at just 2,400 pounds.
The heaviest horse on record, however, is a Belgian stallion named Brooklyn Supreme, who topped the scales at 3,200 pounds.
No matter. Big Ben, with his gleaming reddish coat and blazing flaxen mane, is a stunning specimen, and the pride and joy of his owners who offer ‘Big Ben of the Berkshires’ tours at their farm.
3- Bulls With HORNS – the Ankole-Watusi
One can only imagine how difficult it is to carry around the head gear that these poor bulls do each day. It would be like wearing a crown, but without the title and the life of privilege that goes with it!
Best known for the very large horns that adorn their heads, the Ankole-Watusi is believed to have ancestral origins dating back as far as 4000BC.
The long-horned cattle first established themselves in the Nile Valley in Ancient Egypt. In fact, they even appear in photos of Egyptian pyramids.
This Egyptian descendant migrated to Ethiopia and then further down the continent, breeding with the Longhorn Zebu, to eventually form the Ankole-Watusi we see today throughout India, Pakistan, Africa, America and Europe.
The first herd in America was recorded in 1960, and an international registry was set up in 1983. At last count in 2016, there was approximately 1,500 head of the breed, with 80% of these farmed in the United States.
Considered the showstoppers of the bovine world, these elegant and graceful cattle are usually red in color, with cows weighing up to 545 kilograms and bulls as much as 730 kilograms.
And if you think that’s heavy, spare a thought for the poor mother giving birth to a calf that can weigh anywhere up to 22 kilograms! That’s a decent size calf.
The entire herd are very protective of new calves, with the adult’s horns serving as weapons against intruders.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be keen to take one on, that’s for sure.
In May 2015, a cow that made it into the Guinness World Records sadly passed away.
The adorable Blosom, owned by American Patty Meads-Hanson, had injured her leg and it was decided to put her out of her misery.
The female Holstein will live on in the record books, however, as the world’s tallest cow in history.
She towered over most American adults at a staggering height of 1.9 meters, over 6 feet tall and was measured at her home in Orangeville, Illinois, for the record books in early 2015.
Meads-Hanson was emotional on learning Blosom had claimed the coveted record of the tallest cow, but said her beloved cow was unaffected by all the attention that once surrounded her.
She said as long as she could count on her oats, and daily chin rubs and ear scratches, she was happy.
Having owned Blosom from just eight weeks old, Meads-Hanson said she was born to two normal sized cows, both of whom she quickly outgrew.
Meads-Hanson’s late father suggested she have the cow measured, however, he died before the record was officially confirmed.
1- Giant White Shark
Over the years the ocean has played host to thousands of pretty oversized sharks and their sizes continue to differ and increase throughout history.
These predators are pretty dangerous and vicious when prompted, and you’d imagine with increased size comes increased risk. However, for some strange reason many people seem to enjoy the thought of coming face to face with these creatures.
Obviously, there is a cage between them, but let’s face it, you’ve all seen what happens on ‘Jaws’, cage or no cage!
In Australia there is a special week-long dive event hosted by Andrew Fox, a renowned ocean enthusiast.
The days are spent shark diving as well as getting up close with some of Australia’s finest sea lions.
These dives have seen sharks in great numbers, including many larger sharks, obviously not on a megalodon scale but certainly larger than your average great white.
It is an experience that all ocean and shark lovers should give a try, even just once.
I mean, how many people can say they’ve come face-to-face with a Great White roaming the Great Barrier Reef and the Pacific Ocean, and lived to tell the tale?
Not many, I bet.
When dealing with gigantic mammals and animals, it pays to do your homework before any encounter, particularly if it’s of the planned variety. Although large, some are docile, whereas others should be kept at arm’s length, to ensure you don’t lose a limb or two, or maybe even your life. Like the world’s biggest dog, for example, it may be cute, but at 120kg and with a name like Bulldozer, you can’t be too careful!