Greatest Species On Earth

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LogicFTW's picture
@orignal post

@orignal post

Greatest species:

- Great barrier reef (many living organisms)
- Pando colony of quaking aspens (single organism)
- Giant sequoia (certainly one of my favorites)
- blue whale largest animal

Oldest continuous living:
- Aspen groves (100k years)
- Posidonia oceanica (marine plant) 100k years
- Ocean quahog clam. > Oldest recorded: 507 years.
- Greenland shark. > Oldest recorded: 392 years.
- Bowhead whale. > Oldest recorded: 211 years.
- it is agreed upon there are some living species that do not die of old age, but do frequently die of trauma/disease

Longest lasting species:
- Cyanobacteria 2.8 billion years old
- Sponge 580 million years old
- Jellyfish 550 million years old
- Forms of fungus, ?? perhaps 3 billion years.

Most biomass
- Earthworms ~ 3.8 to 7.6 billion tonnes
- Cyanobacteria ~1 billion tonnes
- termites ~ 450 million
- Antarctic krill 380 million (single species, can vary greatly)
- Cattle 520 million (mostly domesticated/livestock)
- Humans 370 million (including children)

Most dominant
- Humans
- Algae blooms (distant 2nd excluding human caused)

Greatest capacity for destruction
- Humans
- Emerald ash borer (a subjective guess, also distant 2nd place)
- Algae blooms

Top of the food chain
- Humans
- Orcas (ocean, and distant 2nd, recently shown to beat out great white sharks.)

Most likely to still be around in signficant numbers a billion years from now
- Cyanobacteria
- forms of fungus
- Earth worms
- sponges/jellyfish

Take your pick from this list which is the "greatest"

CyberLN's picture
Logic, you listed a figure

Logic, you listed a figure for the human biomass. Does that figure take into account that what we commonly think of as our body has more bacterial cells than human cells?

LogicFTW's picture

You bring up a good point, I imagine that would be difficult to separate out. And quickly requires a conversation on "what is human" it is well known bacteria cells that contains very different dna from humans even though they reside within us, and they do have a lot of influence on our lives, (especially what we eat.)

The 370 million tonnes figure is total wet biomass, rounded up from 350 million figure from 2012, (more humans alive and overall global trends towards obesity and away from malnutrition.)

@Thread to answer the original question which species is the greatest?

If I had to pick one, humans, simply because I am one, even though humans are far and away the most destructive species and has the capability to annihilate themselves, (nuclear apocalypse,) or like any other living species that swells to incredible numbers, eventually starve themselves out of needed resources, (clean water comes to mind first.) But perhaps humans can continue to innovate, I keep hearing about slow and steady advances that will allow widespread deuterium based fusion power which would solve drinkable water issues and perhaps even climate change.

Of course if humans figure out how to colonize other planets, the game changes, and humans could well be far and away the "greatest" but also possibly a scourge on the universe, depending on how you look at it.



I am an atheist that always likes a good debate
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Tips on forum use. ▮ A.R. Member since 2016.

CyberLN's picture
I find the degree to which we

I find the degree to which we are symbiotic creatures so fascinating!

Edited to add: because of that, I think there just might not even be a ‘greatest’ creature. The interdependencies are just too complex for one to merit that status over another.

HumbleThinker's picture
How about the Axolotl!? They

How about the Axolotl!? They have super regenerative powers and can even regrow parts of their brain! Their gills are also pretty unique.

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
The GPO aka the giant Pacific

The GPO aka the giant Pacific octopus is one of my favorite animals of all time. A close second would be the shark family. They are perfect in every way way and the only thing that could make them more formidable, is if they possessed the mind of an octopus.

Tin-Man's picture
The greatest species on Earth

The greatest species on Earth?... Hah! I've got everybody beat!..... THE DODO BIRD!..... Oh... wait.... Ummm... Never mind. Carry on, everybody... *trying to be unobtrusive while slowly easing toward exit*....

Teufsnake's picture
A little bias but snakes

A little bias but snakes without them we would be over run with rodents that carry disease and consume the food we produce.
beautiful colors and patterns.

They don't deserve the hate they receive.

Tin-Man's picture
Yo, Serpent! Welcome to the

Yo, Serpent! Welcome to the AR! Is that an albino python there? Beautiful creature. Makes me miss my Ziggy. She was a Ball Python I had for about eight years. Got her when she was a baby about the size of an earthworm. She was nearing six feet when I had to pass her along to another home. She was incredibly docile and allowed anybody to handle her. Yeah, I've always been fascinated by snakes since I was a kid. Wonderful animals.

turning_left's picture
Snake lovers, unite! I have a

Snake lovers, unite! I have a gorgeous pastel ball python named Nessie. She's super sweet. Serpent, your snake looks much more formidable and just as gorgeous.

Tin-Man, sorry to hear that you had to rehome Ziggy! Sounds like she was a whopper! I'll have to see how big my girl gets. She's about 4.5 feet presently.

LogicFTW's picture
Many snakes keep growing

Many snakes keep growing bigger as long as there is room and steady food right? Growing all their lives?

I honestly do not know too much about snakes.

turning_left's picture
I'm not sure about other

I'm not sure about other species, but ball pythons do most of their growing in the first 3 years. In that time they go from fitting in the palm of your hand to maybe 4ish feet! After that, they'll grow slowly for the rest of their lives. They do tend to grow more if you feed them more, but having an overweight snake isn't great either.

Teufsnake's picture
@logicFTW snakes grow to a

@logicFTW snakes grow to a set size, the speed of growth is determinate on the amount of food available.
A keeper can keep his/hers snake smaller by offering a smaller prey size that still meet the caloric needs of the animal. That's why you don't see a 100 foot corn snake in the wild. After they hit a certain size the growth slows way down so a slightly bigger snake is a rarity even in captivity, for example my columbian red tail boa will max out at 8 feet but some do exceed that and reach 10 foot.

CyberLN's picture
My wonderful ball python,

My wonderful ball python, Zanzibar, succumbed to pneumonia. He was a wonderful friend.

turning_left's picture
I'm so sorry to hear that,

I'm so sorry to hear that, CyberLN. I'm glad you remember him so fondly. Snakes can be such great companions.

CyberLN's picture
thank you. I completely

thank you. I completely agree.

arakish's picture
I had a boa, forget exactly

I had a boa, forget exactly what kind, but it reached almost 12 feet. She was also extremely docile and never even bothered anyone, even when handled. Like yours CyberLN, she died due to pneumonia due to the winters. I actually miss the "zoo" of animals we had while my family was still alive.


Grinseed's picture
I had the rare opportunity

I had the rare opportunity of clearing a massive old barn in Queensland of six fully grown pythons ala Marlin Perkins style, a long pole with a tethered rope and a hessian bag. To handle these creatures was a wonderful experience to feel the rippling muscles and marvel at the strength. I bagged each gently and witnessed each emerge from the bag and glide back into the undergrowth along a near by creek. Of course a few came back to the barn which I had converted into a pottery studio. The most surprising visit was where one hung by his tail from a rafter in the studio right over the potter wheel I was working on and was mesmerised by the revolving traces of clay on the wheelhead. I stopped work for a break, stretched and looked up, his head was inches from my face. I studied him closely for a while, before I coaxed him into the bag and took him back to the creek.

But for the best creature.....the Sulphur Crested White Cockatoo. Raucous, rude, noisy, acrobatic, aerobatic, risk taker, larikin fool and faithful flock member...well, best bird in Australia, at least.

Tin-Man's picture
@Grinseed Re: Clearing the

@Grinseed Re: Clearing the barn

Wow! Would have loved to be able to help with that. Way cool!... *big grin*...

Teufsnake's picture
yeah its a t pos blood python

yeah its a t pos blood python

Sky Pilot's picture


If you had your choice between a talking snake, a talking donkey, or an unicorn which would you choose?

HumbleThinker's picture
Probably the unicorn. The

Probably the unicorn. The talking donkey already exists, talked to a few on this forum before. And we all know what talking snakes are capable of, just ask Adam and Eve.

How about you?

Edited for clarity.

arakish's picture
Somebody call the Paddy Wagon

Somebody call the Paddy Wagon. We have someone in need of a strait jacket and a rubber room with rather large doses of thorazine.


Sapporo's picture
"So long, and thanks for all

"So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Grinseed's picture
@Sapporo, damn dolphins. They

@Sapporo, damn dolphins. They could have at least left us a clue about the mice before leaving.

Calilasseia's picture
Since tardigrades have

Since tardigrades have already been mentioned, it's apposite to point out that these organisms can survive a truly amazing range of conditions. Thus far, experiments have demonstrated that they can survive being desiccated for 30 years or more, temperatures in excess of boiling water or colder than liquid nitrogen, and have even survived being inserted into an electron microscope, subjected to a vacuum and irradiated with electrons from the microscope's electron gun. Two of the papers in my entomology collection cover an experiment in which tardigrades were exposed to the conditions of space in low Earth orbit, and even survived said exposure for 13 days.

Relevant papers covering tardigrades surviving in space include:

Tardigrades Survive Exposure To Space In Low Earth Orbit by K. Ingemar Jönsson, Elke Rabbow, Ralph O. Schill, Mats Harms-Ringdahl and Petra Rettberg, Current biology, 18(17): R729-R731 (9th September 2008)

Vacuum (imposing extreme dehydration) and solar/galactic cosmic radiation prevent survival of most organisms in space [1]. Only anhydrobiotic organisms, which have evolved adaptations to survive more or less complete desiccation, have a potential to survive space vacuum, and few organisms can stand the unfiltered solar radiation in space. Tardigrades, commonly known as water-bears, are among the most desiccation and radiation-tolerant animals and have been shown to survive extreme levels of ionizing radiation [2–4]. Here, we show that tardigrades are also able to survive space vacuum without loss in survival, and that some specimens even recovered after combined exposure to space vacuum and solar radiation. These results add the first animal to the exclusive and short list of organisms that have survived such exposure.

Extreme Stress tolerance In Tardigrades: Surviving Space Conditions In Low Earth Orbit by Dennis Persson, Kenneth A. Halberg, Aslak Jørgensen, Claudia Ricci, Nadja Møberg & Reinhardt M. Kristensen, Journal of Zoological Systematics & Evolutionary Research, 49 (Supplement 1): 90-97 (2011)

Most terrestrial tardigrade species possess the ability to enter a reversible ametabolic state termed anhydrobiosis in response to desiccation. In the anhydrobiotic state, tardigrades display an incredible capacity to tolerate extreme environmental stress, not necessarily encountered in their natural habitat. In this study, we determine the effect of different extreme stresses on initial survival, long-term survival and fecundity of selected species of limno-terrestrial tardigrades. The primary focus was to assess the effect of cosmic radiation. This was achieved through the RoTaRad (Rotifers, Tardigrades and Radiation) project on the BIOPAN 6 mission, funded by Agenzia Spaziale Italiana under the European Space Agency. To test their tolerance of space environment, tardigrades were sent into low earth orbit, and exposed to cosmic radiation and a microgravity environment. Experiments on Whatman-3 filters show an effect of cosmic radiation on the survival of the eutardigrade Richtersius coronifer just after returning to Earth; however, after 2 years of desiccation on Whatman-3 filters, none of the tardigrades previously exposed to cosmic radiation could be revived. In a microcosmos experiment, the tardigrades R. coronifer, Ramazzottius oberhauseri and Echiniscus testudo were desiccated on a moss substrate together with rotifers and nematodes. Very low survival rates were observed in this experiment, likely due to the applied desiccation protocol. Embryos of the tardigrade Milnesium tardigradum were also exposed to cosmic radiation; they all hatched in the laboratory after the flight. In addition, experiments testing extreme cold and vacuum tolerance in R. coronifer show that tardigrades in anhydrobiosis are unaffected by these conditions.

Mind you, there's an organism with even better radiation resistance than tardigrades, in the form of the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans. This bacterium can survive a radiation dose of 5,000 Grays (the upper limit for tardigrades is 4,000 Gy). By contrast, 5 Gy is the lethal dose for humans.


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