Nature is vast, knowledge is even more vast, it’s infinitive. As part of our “knowledge growth program”, herein we are presenting some of the largest and smallest living things in the world. In this article, we shall explore 5 topics:
Can you guess who are the largest and smallest members from the above list? Guesswork may fail; let’s explore the answers straight way.
Published in the last issue: Amazing Biology Facts
Largest and Smallest Flowers
The smallest flowering plant is commonly called watermeal, the scientific name is Wolffia sp., known to be the smallest flower in the world. This is a member of the duckweed family – Lemnaceae. There are various species of Wolffia worldwide.
The plants have an average length of 0.6mm and an average width of 0.4mm. Wolffia species are free-floating greenish thalli without any roots, but the mature plant contains a flower in a depression. The flower has one stamen and one pistil protrude out from the depression.
Watermeal can be used as a vegetable if it is growing in healthy water. Wolffia contains about 20% protein, 44% carbohydrates, 5% fat, and vitamins A, B6, C, and niacin. Wolffia globosa tastes like a sweet cabbage. Would you like to taste it?
The largest flower is Rafflesia arnoldii, which belongs to the parasitic genus Rafflessia. It is found in the rainforests of Indonesia and measures 3 feet across and weighs up to 15 pounds.
The flower represents the whole plant, with no visible leaves, roots, or stem. It has a pungent smell like decaying meat, which helps to attract flies or other insects and act as a pollinator.
Another giant inflorescence found in Indonesia, the Amorphophallus titanum. This is actually a cluster of flowers joined together to resemble a single flower. It can reach up to 7 to 12 feet in height and 170 pounds in weight.
Largest and smallest fruits
The world’s smallest fruits are produced from the smallest flower of the duckweed Wolffia sp. Two smallest species are the Wolffia angusta and Wolffia globosa.
A tiny mature fruit takes up most of the plant body, and measures about 0.3 mm long and 70 micrograms in weight, almost the same as a single cubical grain of ordinary table salt (NaCl).
The largest simple fruit is a pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.). To date, the heaviest man-grown pumpkin weighs 1,190.49 kg/2,624.6 lb. The wild pumpkin doesn’t reach a much larger size.
On the other hand, a jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) seems to be another largest fruit in the world, capable of reach up to 100 pounds. However, scientifically jackfruit isn’t a simple fruit; it is multiple fruits that develop from a complete inflorescence and covered by a common covering with blunt spikes.
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Highest and lowest Chromosome Numbers
The living thing with highest chromosome
To date, the organism with the highest chromosome number recorded is Adder’s-tongue fern, Ophioglossum reticulatum.
The diploid cells of the fern possess 720 pairs or 1,440 chromosomes. Adder is a venomous snake in Britain, the fern resembles a snake’s tongue, thus having the typical name.
The creature having the Lowest chromosome
As we know, the smallest one-digit number is one. The male Australian jack jumper ant, Myrmecia pilosula possesses the smallest number of chromosomes.
Only one chromosome is present in each cell of the male ant as it is haploid, which means, they have half the number of normal chromosomes, while the female ant has two chromosomes per cell. The ant is venomous; it causes 90% allergic reactions in humans and can jump long distances. The female ant has large mandibles.
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Smallest and Largest Butterfly
The western pigmy blue ( Brephidium exilis or Brephidium exile) is the smallest known butterfly with a wingspan of only 1.3 cm.
On contrary, the Queen Alexandra birdwing, Ornithoptera alexandrae is the largest butterfly species in the world. The wingspan of the female butterfly can reach up to 30 cm. This is an endangered species and is restricted to the forests of Oro Province in eastern Papua New Guinea. This species was named in honor of Queen Alexandra of Denmark.
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Biggest and Smallest Mammals
The bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) is the smallest mammal in the world, with a head-body length of only 2.9-3.3 cm and a weight of 1.7-2 gm only. This is also known as Kitti’s hog-nosed bat; this name was derived from its discoverer, a Thai zoologist Kitti Thonglongya. The bat occurs in the limestone caves along the rivers of Thailand and southeast Myanmar. The bumblebee bat is no bigger than a large bumblebee, but it is larger in its wingspan which usually varies from 13-14.5 cm.
The largest mammal is the Antarctic blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus. It is also the largest animal on the planet. It can weigh up to 400,000 pounds and reach up to 98 feet in length. After 10-12 months of gestation, a newborn baby whale born with about 3 tons of body weight and stretching to 25 feet. Baby whale exclusively feeds on mother’s milk and gain up to 200 pounds of body weight each day.
Blue whales feed almost exclusively on krill by straining a huge volume of seawater through their sieve-like baleen plates hanging from the upper mandible. Some of the biggest individuals can eat up to 6 tons of krill per day. The blue whale has about 34% of body fat, mostly included in the thick blubber under their skin.
Their blubber help in insulation in the extreme cold water, buoyancy, defence, and energy storage.
So, that’s all for this issue. In the next issue we shall get back with more amazing knowledges.