Top 10 Longest Animals in the World

The animal kingdom is filled with fascinating species, each unique in its way. Be it for their weight, their height, or their speed. But some animals among these, also stand out for their extraordinary lengths, quite literally stretching the limits of what many might consider possible in the natural world. These longest animals in the world aren’t always necessarily large animals overall, but they are big in their vertical.

The following ranking lists the ten longest animals in the world by their recorded maximum lengths, measured from one vertical end to the other. Only extant, living animals are considered for this ranking of the longest animals.

For the Ranking of the Top 10 Tallest Animals in the World, click here.
For the Ranking of the Top 10 Heaviest Animals in the World, click here.
For the Ranking of the Top 10 Fastest Land Animals in the World, click here.

The Longest Animals in the World

1. Bootlace Worms

bootlace worms - longest animals in the world
A bootlace worm
Credit: ‘Zoo Wild’ on YouTube

Maximum Length: ~ 55 meters / 180 feet
Average Length: ~
15 meters / 50 feet

Natural habitat
: North Sea
Longest sub-species: No sub-species

The Bootlace Worm is the longest animal in the world. Bootlace worms are ribbon worms, which can stretch up to an astonishing length of 55 meters or 180 feet, while only being up to 10 millimeters or 0.4 inches wide. They are also known for producing highly toxic mucus, through which they are capable of killing predatory animals. Bootlace worms can naturally be found in the North Sea in Northern Europe. The worms are seldom seen on land, though strong storms can sometimes wash them ashore.


2. Praya

Praya dubia seen in the deep sea
Credit: SciTech Daily

Maximum Length: ~ 50 meters / 164 feet
Average Length: ~
40 meters / 131 feet

Natural habitat
: In the deep sea all oceans of planet Earth
Longest sub-species: Praya Dubia / Giant Siphonophore

Praya follow as the second longest animals on Earth by maximum length, while being the longest animals on average. Praya are Siphonophores, meaning deep-sea colonial animals that live in zooid colonies made up of many individual organisms that each perform different functions. They are capable of producing blue bioluminescent light through which they attract their prey, mostly small crabs and fish, which they then kill or paralyze by stinging them with their toxic tentacles. The Praya Dubia sub-species, better known as Giant Siphonophores, can reach lengths of up to 50 meters or 164 feet. The colonial animals are living in the deep sea, up to 1,000 meters below sea level, in all oceans of planet Earth.


3. Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

A lion’s mane jellyfish, the longest jellyfish species.

Maximum Length: ~ 37 meters / 121 feet
Average Length: ~
10 meters / 33 feet

Natural habitat
: Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean & North Pacific Ocean
Longest sub-species: No sub-species

The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish comes third among the longest animals in the world. With tentacles extending up to around 37 meters or 121 feet, the lion’s mane jellyfish represents the longest jellyfish species in the world. Its long tentacles are also equipped with toxic stinging cells that allow the jellyfish to capture prey. The jellyfish is named after its hair-like tentacles, which resemble a lion’s mane. Lion’s Mane jellyfish are naturally found in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific Oceans.


4. Baleen Whales

A blue whale, the overall largest animal in the world and the longest baleen whale

Maximum Length: ~ 33 meters / 108 feet
Average Length: ~
20 meters / 65 feet

Natural habitat
: In all oceans of planet Earth
Longest sub-species: Blue Whale

Baleen Whales come fourth among the longest animals in the world. Baleen Whales are the heaviest animals in the world and through their length also the longest mammals in the world. Several baleen whales rank among the longest animals. The Blue Whale unsurprisingly represents the longest baleen whale sub-species, however. The blue whale is thus not only the largest animal by weight but also the fourth longest, reaching lengths of up to 33 meters or 108 feet. Baleen whales, across their many sub-species, can naturally be found in all the world’s oceans.


5. Toothed Whales

A sperm whale calf with its adult parent sperm whale, the longest species among the toothed whales

Maximum Length: ~ 21 meters / 69 feet
Average Length: ~
10 meters / 33 feet

Natural habitat
: In all oceans of planet Earth
Longest sub-species: Sperm Whale

Toothed Whales collectively also make the Top Five of the longest animals in the world. Two sub-species of toothed whales are particularly characterized by massive lengths, with the Sperm Whale being the longest toothed whale sub-species, reaching lengths of up to 21 meters or 69 feet, and the Beaked Whale coming second. Toothed whales, across their many sub-species, have their natural habitat in all of the Earth’s oceans.


6. Whale Sharks

A whale shark

Maximum length: ~ 19 meters / 62 feet
Average length: ~
8 meters / 26 feet

Natural habitat
: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean & Pacific Ocean
Longest sub-species: No sub-species

Whale Sharks follow as the sixth longest animals in the world. As the largest fish in the sea, whale sharks can grow up to 19 meters or 62 feet long and are therefore also the longest fish in the world. The filter feeder shark is named precisely for its size and length and can therefore rightfully be called the “whale among sharks”. Whale sharks can naturally be found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean, usually in tropical waters.


7. Oarfish

A giant oarfish photographed by divers off the coast of Taiwan
Credit: instagram.com/chengruwang

Maximum length: ~ 17 meters / 56 feet
Average length: ~
3 meters / 10 feet

Natural habitat
: In the deep sea all oceans of planet Earth
Longest sub-species: Giant Oarfish

The oarfish places seventh among the longest animals in the world. Oarfish are characterized by their long trunks, which makes them the longest bony fish on Earth. The longest oarfish sub-species, the Giant Oarfish, can reach lengths of up to 17 meters or 56 feet. Oarfish are deep-sea fish living 250 to 1,000 meters below sea level and are therefore rarely seen or caught by humans. In Japanese mythology, oarfish do have a somewhat legendary status as “earthquake fish” however, linking the sight of oarfish near the sea surface to looming earthquakes.


8. Colossal Squids

A captured rare encounter with a colossal squid by a fishing boat off the coast of Antarctica
Credit: New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries

Maximum length: ~ 14 meters / 46 feet
Average length: ~
10 meters / 33 feet

Natural habitat
: In the deep sea of the Southern/Antarctic Ocean
Longest sub-species: No sub-species

The Colossal Squid comes eighth among the longest animals in the world. Colossal squids are the biggest species of squids, both by weight and length. They can grow up to be 14 meters or around 46 feet long. Colossal squids are also known for having the largest eyes of any known animal in the world. Colossal squids are deep-sea animals exclusively found in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. Colossal squids are extremely rare and only a few human encounters have ever been documented. Their extraordinary size is an example of deep-sea gigantism, a phenomenon that makes deep-sea species significantly larger than non-deep-sea species of the same animal family.


9. Giant Squids

A giant squid photographed off the coast of Japan.
Credit: AFP News Agency.

Maximum length: ~ 13 meters / 43 feet
Average length: ~
9 meters / 30 feet

Natural habitat
: In the deep sea all oceans of planet Earth
Longest sub-species: No sub-species

The Giant Squid follows as the ninth-longest animal in the world. With its enormous eyes and tentacles, second only to the colossal squid, the giant squid can grow up to 13 meters or 43 feet long, therefore making it only slightly less long than its colossal squid cousin. Compared to the colossal squid, giant squids are somewhat more common as they are present in all oceans of planet Earth. However, they, too, are deep-sea animals and therefore rather rare to sight for humans.


10. Basking Sharks

A basking shark

Maximum length: ~ 12 meters / 39 feet
Average length: ~ 8 meters / 26 feet

Natural habitat: Atlantic Ocean & Pacific Ocean
Longest sub-species: No sub-species

The Basking Shark concludes the ranking of the ten longest animals in the world. Basking sharks are the second-heaviest and third-longest fish in the world, reaching lengths of up to 12 meters or around 39 feet. Basking sharks are filter-feeder sharks mostly characterized by the fact they’re swimming with their mouths wide open, filtering plankton from the water. Basking sharks have their natural habitat in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, typically in the coastal sea regions.


The 10 Longest Animals in the World:

Maximum Length:Average Lendgth: Longest Sub-Species:
1. BOOTLACE WORMS~ 55 meters / 180 feet~ 40 meters / 131 feetNo sub-species
2. PRAYA~ 50 meters / 164 feet~ 40 meters / 131 feetPraya Dubia / Giant Siphonophore
3. LION’S MANE JELLYFISH~ 37 meters / 121 feet~ 10 meters / 33 feetNo sub-species
4. BALEEN WHALES~ 33 meters / 108 feet~ 20 meters / 65 feetBlue Whale
5. TOOTHED WHALES~ 21 meters / 69 feet~ 10 meters / 33 feetSperm Whale
6. WHALE SHARKS~ 19 meters / 62 feet~ 8 meters / 26 feetNo sub-species
7. OARFISH~ 17 meters / 56 feet~ 3 meters / 10 feetGiant Oarfish
8. COLOSSAL SQUIDS~ 14 meters / 46 feet~ 10 meters / 33 feetNo sub-species
9. GIANT SQUIDS~ 13 meters / 43 feet~ 9 meters / 30 feetNo sub-species
10. BASKED SHARKS~ 12 meters / 39 feet~ 8 meters / 26 feetNo sub-species
The ten longest animals in the world by highest maximum length recorded. Only living extant animals are counted in the ranking. Average length displays the average length of the longest animals across all their sub-species if existent.


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