car-sized crabs

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From mighty mammals to terrifying tarantulas, discover the biggest beasts of the animal kingdom!


  • Published 2013 byA&C Black

    An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP

    ISBN HB 978-1-4081-8183-6ISBN PB 978-1-4081-9481-2

    Copyright 2013 Bloomsbury Publishing PlcText copyright 2013 Anna Claybourne

    Design: Nick Avery Design

    The right of Anna Claybourne to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

    A CIP catalogue for this book is available from the British Library.

    All photographs Shutterstock, except: p23 (inset) John Sparks/; p31 (inset) Gerard Soury/Oxford Scientific/Getty Images; p37 (inset) Brandon Cole/; p38 (inset) Citron; p38 Christian Darkin/Science Photo Library; p39 (inset) Y23; p40 Doug Perrine/; p41

    (inset) Jeff Rotman/; p44 Scubazoo/Science Photo Library; p44 (inset) Jany Sauvenet/Science Photo Library; p46 Doug Allan/; p48 Nick Upton/; p55 (inset) Damian Herde /; p60 (inset) J. Patrick Fischer; p61 Tom McHugh/Science Photo Library; p62 Daniel Heuclin/; p63 (inset) ANDREW MURRAY/; p72

    PETER REESE/naturepl; p73 Mark Carwardine/; p74 (inset) and p74 Jabruson/; p76 Franois Gilson / Biosphoto /; p77 (inset) Bristol City Museum/; p78 Nature Production/; p79 (inset) Scott Camazine/Science Photo Library; p80 Pete Oxford/; p81 (inset) Julio.ospinao; p82 (inset) Snakecollector; p83 Morkelsker;

    p84 (inset) Tony Heald/; p85 Jabruson/naturepl; p88 Natural History Museum, London/Science Photo Library; p89 Fir0002; p91 (inset) Charlie Summers/

    Copyright in the photographs remains with the individuals and organisations credited above. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and obtain their permission for use of copyright material. The publishers would be pleased to

    rectify any error or omission in future editions.

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,

    taping or information storage and retrieval systems without the prior permission in writing of the publishers.

    This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in managed, sustainable forests. It is natural, renewable and recyclable. The logging and manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the

    country of origin.

    Printed in China by Toppan Leefung.

    HB 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1PB 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  • Written by Anna Claybourne

    And Other Animal Giants

  • ContentsA world of giants 6

    Massive mammalsAfrican elephant 8Rhinoceros 10Hippopotamus 12Flying fox 14Polar bear 16Tiger 18Giraffe 20Gorilla 22

    sea monstersBlue whale 24Sperm whale 26Elephant seal 28Whale shark 30Great white shark 32Ocean sunfish 34Giant octopus 36Colossal and giant squid 38Japanese spider crab 40Lions mane jellyfish 42Leatherback turtle 44Giant isopod 46Bootlace worm 48

  • slithery and slimy giantsGreen anaconda 50King cobra 52Saltwater crocodile 54Giant tortoise 56Komodo dragon 58Chinese giant salamander 60Goliath frog 62 big birds Andean condor 64Wandering albatross 66Ostrich 68Emperor penguin 70 Giant creepy-crawliesGiant weta 72Goliath beetle 74Queen Alexandras birdwing 76Asian giant hornet 78Tarantula hawk wasp 80Goliath bird-eating spider 82Giant earthworm 84Giant African land snail 86Chans megastick 88Robber crab 90

    Where in the world? 92Glossary 94Index 96

  • 14

    Monster momentAccording to folklore, an even bigger bat, the

    mysterious Ahool, roams the forests of Java in southeast Asia. Its said to cry a-HOO-oool! as it flies through the night, and has a reported wingspan of over 3m

    twice as big as the biggest flying foxes. Yikes! However, theres no evidence so far

    that it really exists.

    MAxIMUM SIzE: 1.5m wingspan MAxIMUM WEIGHT: 1.2kg FOUnd In: India, Asia, Australia and islands around Africa.CREATURE FEATURE: Huge, spreading, leathery wings, attached to the bats arms and fingers.

    furry fACesFlying foxes get their name because their pointy, furry faces resemble a fox. They are also known as megabats. There are many flying fox species, and they vary in size but the large flying fox, Livingstones flying fox, black flying fox and Indian flying fox are all enormous.

    Most of their size comes from their wide wings, made of skin stretched between long, spindly finger bones. Their furry bodies are closer to the size of a cat or a small monkey. To stay in the air, flying foxes must also be very light, so they only weigh around a kilo as much as a small bunch of bananas.

    flyinG foxSpread out your arms as wide as you can. your armspan is similar to the wingspan of the large flying fox which is not actually a fox at all, but the worlds biggest bat. Maybe you thought bats like that only existed as Halloween decorations, or in vampire films! But bats this big really are out there.

  • 15

    fruit fAn Some bats eat insects, some eat fish or frogs, and some, the vampire bats, really do sneak up and suck peoples blood. Luckily for us, flying foxes dont do that. They feed on fruit and nectar from flowers, giving them another of their names, giant fruit bat.

    HAnGInG AROUndWhen it stops for a rest, a flying fox hangs upside down by its feet, like other bats, and wraps its wings around itself.

  • 36

    GiaNt oCtopUsif you were aboard a sailing ship hundreds of years ago, one thing you were sure to fear was the kraken. according to legends and sailors tales, this mighty, many-tentacled sea monster could clamber up out of the sea, wrap itself around a ship and drag it under the waves. yikes! But of course, there isnt really a creature like that. is there?

    MaxiMuM size: 9.6m armspan across MaxiMuM WeighT: 250kg Found in: The northern Pacific ocean, mostly near coasts.CreaTure FeaTure: Strangely wrinkled, baggy skin that can change colour and texture.

  • 37

    MoNster oCtopUsSome old illustrations of the kraken suggest the tales were actually based on a real-life sea creature, the red, wrinkly, and incredibly stretchy giant Pacific octopus. This is the biggest octopus in the world (or at least, the biggest discovered so far its always hard to tell what might be lurking in the deep oceans!).

    A giant octopus is not big enough to sink a ship sailors and fishermen probably exaggerated its size after finding dead ones, or catching them in their nets. However, the biggest specimens are thought to have had an armspan of almost 10m. 10m is a lot! An octopus 10m across could easily wrap itself around an elephant, a truck or a small house, if not a full-sized ship.

    shark-eatersUsually, giant Pacific octopuses are closer to 5m across, but thats still pretty big. They mainly hunt lobsters, shellfish and smaller octopuses, but have also been seen catching seabirds and even eating sharks.

    Did you know?Octopus

    es are highly

    intelligent. Capt


    giant Pacific octo


    have worked out

    how to

    open jars to find


    and find their wa


    through mazes.

    gianT graBBerA giant Pacific octopus can spread its arms out wide, then bring them together to help it swim, or to grab prey.

  • 40

    JapaNese spider CraBif youve ever seen a crab, it was probably quite small small enough to fit in your hand, or at least on a plate! But did you know that there are crabs the size of cars? yikes! The Japanese spider crab, the worlds biggest crab, has a body as big as a dustbin, and legs up to nearly 4m across.

    water GiaNtsCrabs belong to the arthropods, the same animal family as insects. They dont have bones to hold them up, just a strong shell, or exoskeleton (meaning a skeleton thats on the outside). On land, its hard for animals like this to grow really big, because they couldnt hold their own bodies up. But in the sea, the water supports them, making it easier to move around. This crab stays in the water and never comes onto land, and thats one reason it can grow so enormous.

    donT CaTCh Me!Like other crabs, Japanese spider crabs have strong, sharp pincers, and they can hurt people by giving them a nasty nip. This usually only happens to fishermen who are trying to catch them.

    Did you know?Japanese spider crabs can live to be 100 years old!

    MaxiMuM size: Legspan 3.8m MaxiMuM WeighT: 19kg Found in: The Pacific Ocean around JapanCreaTure FeaTure: Super-spindly front legs, each almost 2m long.

  • 41

    will it eat Me?Spider crabs look scary, like monsters in a sci-fi movie but they dont chase or eat humans. They live in deep, dark, cold water, feeding on shellfish, or nibbling at dead sea creatures. However, we do eat them. In Japan, people catch spider crabs (usually smallish ones) to use as food.

    CraBs in CapTiviTyYou can sometimes get a good, close-up look at a giant spider crab in an aquarium or sea life centre. They need to be kept in very cold water to stay healthy.

  • 50

    GreeN aNaCoNdaif you ever go exploring in the amazon rainforest, take care as you splash through the streams and steamy swamps. This is where the worlds biggest snake can be found, lurking in the shallows, perfectly disguised and ready to pounce.

    MaxiMuM size: 8.8m long MaxiMuM WeighT: 230kg Found in: Rivers, ponds and swampy areas in northern South America. CreaTure FeaTure: Eyes and nostrils on top of the head, like a hippos, let the anaconda hide underwater to wait for passing prey.