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The 10 Absolutely Strongest Animals On Earth: Sheer Strength

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key point:

  • The strongest land animal in the world is the elephant. A typical Asian elephant has 100,000 muscles and tendons lined up along its trunk, enabling it to lift nearly 800 pounds.
  • Gorillas are the strongest and largest primates on Earth, at least six times stronger than the average human. Its bite also produces approximately 1,300 pounds of pressure per square inch.
  • While it may look tame from a distance, the hippopotamus is one of the most dangerous beasts in the world, with a bite force of around 1,800 pounds per square inch.

In the constant battle between predator and prey, size and strength may be the deciding factors in helping an animal survive the harsh elements of nature. However, there are several ways to measure strength, including lift strength, bite strength, kick strength, and overall strength.

Red ant isolated on white background
When considering power relative to size – insects like ants would be the most powerful animals on earth.

©Andrey Pavlov/Shutterstock.com

How do we define a strong animal? For the purposes of this article, we'll define strength in absolute terms, rather than strength relative to body size (which would make insects one of the most powerful animals on Earth). Note that animals in the general group are also listed here. A group can be defined as an entire order or just a single species. Let's take a look at some strong animals!

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Unleash Your Absolute Power: The Whale

Blue whales can generate a maximum force of about 60 kilonewtons.

© Danny Sullivan/Shutterstock.com

Whales can claim the title of strongest creature on Earth due to their sheer size. While unable to lift, grasp or kick water, they do require enormous strength to propel their bulky bodies through the water.

Two large muscle groups near the tail facilitate this movement: the supraaxial muscles that stroke upward and the infraaxial muscles that stroke downward. Blue whales can generate a maximum force of about 60 kilonewtons (one kilonewton of force is enough to accelerate a 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) object at a speed of one meter per second).

Read more about the mighty yet graceful blue whale here.

Mightiest Land Animal: Elephant

An elephant's trunk can lift 800 pounds.

©JohnE Goodwin/Shutterstock.com

Elephants are extremely powerful creatures, with different species varying in size and strength. African bush elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. It reached a maximum height of 12 feet at the shoulder and weighed 12,000 pounds. The closely related Asian elephant weighs about 11,000 pounds.

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The trunk is the elephant's main tactile tool. It consists of muscles, nerves and blood vessels and is extremely low in fat and bone. A typical Asian elephant has 100,000 muscles and tendons lining its trunk. This enables it to lift nearly 800 pounds—about the size of a large tree—with relative ease.

An elephant's trunk has many potential uses, including feeding, touching, cleaning, organizing items, and communicating with others. It's also capable of holding about two gallons of water at a time.

The elephant's body is also especially suited for strength. While most mammals have small bony cavities, elephants have very dense bones, which allow them to perform a variety of impressive maneuvers, such as standing on their hind legs. This allows some species to carry up to 14,000 lbs!

Learn more about the different species on the Elephant Encyclopedia page.

Strongest Primate: Gorilla

mountain gorilla
A gorilla bite produces approximately 1,300 pounds of pressure per square inch.

© Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

By any measure, gorillas are among the strongest animals on Earth. Such muscular and slender arms are at least six times stronger than ordinary people. Its bite also produces approximately 1,300 pounds of pressure per square inch. The largest of the primates, a typical male gorilla can weigh between 200 and 500 pounds. Although primarily herbivorous and not aggressive, its intimidating presence can scare away even the most dangerous animals.

Learn more about the intelligent and powerful gorillas.

Most Powerful Biter: Alligator

crocodile on shore
Alligators' powerful jaws can exert up to 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.

©Naypong Studio/Shutterstock.com

Alligators may have the strongest bite force on Earth. With its powerful jaws, the creature can instantly kill almost any prey by applying up to 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch (depending on the species). For comparison's sake, a human can only bite around 100 pounds per square inch. The key to the crocodile's extraordinary strength is its huge jaw muscles. However, this ability does have a weakness: their mouths open with very little force. The jaws can be held with rubber bands.

Read more about the cunning, strong alligator.

very powerful: bear

grizzly roar
A grizzly bear has the strength of about 5 adults.

©Scott E Read/Shutterstock.com

Bears are a familiar yet intimidating presence in many parks and ecosystems around the world. Their bodies are covered with huge muscles and powerful claws, which allow them to dig and hunt with incredible expertise. Of all the bear species, the grizzly and polar bears are the strongest with the crown. Weighing over 800 pounds — the largest recorded size was twice that — a male grizzly bear has the strength of about five humans… and even more when enraged. The key to the grizzly's strength is the large number of muscles attached directly to its spine. This gives the bear a rounded, raised look. Polar bears are also very strong and can weigh as much as 1,600 pounds. They can also chew at about 1,200 pounds per square inch of pressure.

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Learn more about how bear power has changed here.

Mighty Hunter: Tiger

Wild Bengal tiger lying on the grass and yawning.
A tiger's bite produces approximately 1,000 pounds of force per square inch.


Tigers are one of the largest carnivores in the world, second only to polar bears and grizzlies. The most formidable species, the Siberian tiger, can weigh as much as 800 pounds. As solitary hunters, tigers can swim, leap, and hunt prey with astonishing strength. Unlike many other carnivores, it can easily stand up and attack from its hind legs.

Tigers have six times better night vision than humans, which helps them hunt successfully in the dark. Tigers mainly prey on pigs and deer, but can also take prey larger than themselves

These remarkable abilities are enabled by the tiger's incredibly dense muscular structure. Their bite force is estimated to produce about 1,000 pounds of force per square inch.

Learn more about the beautiful but dangerous tiger.

An Unexpectedly Strong Herbivore: The Hippopotamus

hippo out of water
The average hippo can weigh up to 4,000 pounds and has a bite force of about 1,800 pounds per square inch.

© Radek Borovka/Shutterstock.com

At first glance, the hippopotamus may appear to be a calm, clumsy, vegetable-munching mollusc, but when disturbed it can become one of the most dangerous creatures in the animal kingdom. To understand how dangerous they really are, it's necessary to fully understand the sheer size of hippos. The average hippo weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds, and scientists have documented some hippos weighing twice that. With the ability to open its mouth at a 180-degree angle, a hippo's bite can generate approximately 1,800 pounds of force per square inch. It is a creature that can fight the fiercest predators.

Learn more about hippos here.

Strong Defense: Rhino

Rhino looking at camera
Rhinos can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and are territorial.

©JONATHAN PLEGER/Shutterstock.com

Rhinos are another fearsome herbivore that likes to display rather violent acts of self-defense. Despite threats from humans, the white rhino is the largest species of rhino in the world, reaching about 13 feet in length and weighing up to 5,000 pounds—sometimes more. They can also make excruciating charges at speeds of 30 to 40 mph. While not particularly aggressive, these hardy creatures will defend their territory from threats and have been known to shake or overturn entire vehicles. Their formidable horns are made of keratin – the same substance as hair, nails and feathers.

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Find more interesting rhino knowledge here!

Ferocious and powerful cat: the jaguar

A jaguar can drag a carcass its size up a tree.

©Pedro Helder Pinheiro/Shutterstock.com

The jaguar is a powerful cat native to vast areas of Central and South America. At a maximum weight of 350 pounds, the jaguar isn't the biggest cat, but with a powerful bite force of about 1,500 pounds per square inch, it takes just one quick blow to subdue prey. Jaguars can open their mouths wide and use their huge teeth to pierce skulls or armored shells. It also possesses the power to drag huge corpses about its own size up trees. Jaguars can eat just about anything, including deer, capybaras, wild boars, primates, and ungulates.

Read more about jaguar hunting skills.

An Unexpectedly Powerful Beast: The Cow

Buffalo have been known to overturn large vehicles or charge at other animals or people when threatened.

©THP Creative/Shutterstock.com

Cattle are defined as a group of ungulates including bison, buffalo, yak and cattle. Due to their immense strength, cattle were domesticated thousands of years ago to draw carts, plows and other materials. One of the largest bovids, the African buffalo is a massive beast weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Buffaloes will overturn large vehicles or charge at animals or people when they feel threatened. With their powerful muscles, intimidating horns, and defensive stance, more people are killed each year by cattle attacks than almost any other animal.

Read more about the mighty buffalo here.

Mightiest Bird: The Harpy

Panamanian harpy
The harpy is the most powerful bird of prey in the world.


If you want to know who is king of the air, look no further than the harpy eagle. Experts have found that this ferocious raptor is the strongest bird of prey in the world. The incredible grip of its claws is capable of crushing the bones of its prey, usually monkeys, sloths and possums. Horned eagles typically weigh 13 pounds, have a 5.7-foot wingspan, and can fly at speeds of up to 50 mph. They are found in the rainforests of South America, but are rarely seen in the wild.

The Absolute 10 Strongest Animals on Earth Summary

Here's an overview of the world's most powerful animals and where their power lies:

rank animal power / strength
1 whale unleash the greatest strength
2 elephant most powerful land animal
3 gorilla strongest primate
4 Crocodile The Mightiest Biter
5 Bear very powerful
6 tiger powerful hunter
7 hippo strongest herbivore
8 rhino Strong defensive strength
9 jaguar ferocious cat
10 ox unexpected power


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Rhino running towards the camera

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about the author

My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.

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