“During this staggering journey it doesn’t stop for food or water, and by the time it reaches its destination, it will have lost more than 50% of its body weight”“Although only 6mm in length, the spittle bug can jump 70 cm into the air, the equivalent of a human leaping a 210m skyscraper!”Above: bar-tailed godwit.Aisling Brennan marvels at some of the amazing record breakers of the animal kingdom.HUMANS are amazing. We create art and science always looking to go further, and then pat ourselves on the back for doing art and science and being humans. But there are plenty of extreme boundaries the natural world can push leaving us far behind, and this article aims to shine a light on just a few of them: the record-breakers of the animal kingdom.First let us address the elephant in the room: in particular the male African elephant, which can reach 6800kg in weight and stands an impressive 3.5m tall. While not approaching the height of the giraffe, or the winding length of anacondas, the African elephant’s hulking mass wins it the title of largest living land animal.More specific groups of animals have their own record breakers however, with the Komodo dragon winning the largest (and heaviest) lizard category, and the Chinese giant salamander receiving the award for largest living amphibian at a staggering 180cm in length.In marine environments, there’s an entirely different set of rules. While on land an animal’s potential size is limited by gravity, muscle mass, and how much food there is in their environment, the world’s oceans and seas provide a floating, nutrient filled life.Thus, it is the blue whale that can ultimately claim, not only the title of largest mammal, but of largest animal on Earth. Although endangered, these leviathans can live 80 or 90 years, growing up to 32m long and 200 tons in weight.Staying in the watery depths we have such record breakers as the whale shark (largest fish) reaching 18m in length; the sailfish (fastest fish) reaching speeds of 109 kmph; and the infamous great white shark. The great white is believed to have possibly the most powerful bite of any animal, but scientists have been unable to measure it properly, so the current record holder in that department is the saltwater crocodile, delivering a bite force of 16,415 N.However, the great white is still a record holder as in 2005, a shark named Nicole made the longest recorded shark migration, and completed the fastest return migration of any known animal. Circuiting Africa and Australia, Nicole swam an incredible 20,000 km in a mere nine months.Speaking of marathon journeys, the sooty shearwater bird has been known to travel 64,000 km from its home in New Zealand up into the Northern Hemisphere in search of feeding grounds. Even more impressively, however, is the bar-tailed godwit, which holds the record for the longest non-stop avian migration. The godwit flies 11,500 km from Alaska to New Zealand… in only nine days!During this staggering journey it doesn’t stop for food or water, and by the time it reaches its destination, it will have lost more than 50% of its body weight.Birds also take the cake when it comes to speed, with the cheetah not even coming close with its more than 96km/h land speed record. The peregrine falcon, hunting pigeons and other winged prey, dive from so high up that they can reach 322 kmph as they go in for the kill. Within the bird group, the wandering albatross wins the largest wingspan, with wings measuring up to 3.35m tip to tip.The largest flying bird is the Kori bustard, weighing in at 20kg, although this pales in comparison to the largest (flightless) bird, the ostrich, which can weigh up to 150 kg.But if we want to look for the strongest, most dangerous and weirdest record breakers on the planet, we’re going to have to scale it down a bit, and focus on the minibeasts. While we’ve looked at elephants, whales and giant birds, none of them come close to the strongest: the rhinoceros beetle.Capable of carrying up to 850 times their own body weight, this beetle’s strength is the equivalent of a human being able to carry 59 metric tons with ease! Another super-hero within the bug group is the spittle bug. Although only 6mm in length, the spittle bug can jump 70 cm into the air, the equivalent of a human leaping a 210m skyscraper.Humans are great, and we do some pretty amazing things, but every so often it’s fun to step aside and marvel at what nature can do better than us, bigger than us, and often downright cooler than us. And maybe there are a few – like the wood frog, that hibernates for up to 7 months at a time – that are closer to our own hearts than we might think.