What is the Largest Living Thing on Earth?

All around us in the Rocky Mountains we are surrounded by different forms life.  In this blog I have talked about some of those including wildflowers, trees, birds, mammals, and others.  I have talked about some of the smallest animals in the Rocky Mountains, such as ants, bees, and butterflies, and some of the larger animals, including a moose and grizzly bear.

But, what is the largest living thing in the Rocky Mountains or even the entire World?

There are very large animals or trees throughout the world.  Here are some of the largest living things in the world:

  • The largest animal in the ocean and the world is the Blue Whale.  It can be over 100 feet long and weigh up to 100-150 tons!
  • The tallest tree in the world – Coast Redwood – located somewhere in Northern California is about 369 feet or 116 meters tall!

That is a very big animal and tree.  But, what is the single largest organism in the world?

Before I tell you the answer, it is important to understand how scientists define a single organism because it does not have to be just one single tree.  Scientists define a single organism as a set of genetically identical cells that can communicate, and that have a  common purpose or can at least coordinate themselves to do something.

There are two possible largest living things on earth

largest living thing on earth

Quaking Aspen trees in the fall.

The first of the two potentially largest living things or organisms in the world is a stand of Quaking Aspen trees.  Quaking Aspen trees are one of the common trees of the Rocky Mountains.

There is one stand of Aspen trees located in the mountains of Central Utah that stretches more than 100 acres.  This area of mountains is located in Utah, but is outside of the Rocky Mountains.  Scientists have studied these Aspen trees and even given the stand of trees a name, Pando, which means ‘I spread’.

If you remember, Aspen trees are special in how they can reproduce – they can spread out suckers underground and sprout new trees from those.  By reproducing this way the different trees aboveground are all connected underground, making the stand of Aspen trees one organism.

largest living thing on earth

A honey fungus.

The other candidate for the largest living thing or organism in the world is surprisingly a fungus.  Scientists discovered a honey fungus in the Blue Mountains of Oregon that is connected and covers an area of almost 2,400 acres!

For those that don’t know, a fungus consists of much more than just the mushrooms that you see.  Most of a fungus organism is made up of small, thin threads that are in the soil, a decaying tree or some other host.  These threads spread out and form almost like a spider web.  They can spread out over a large area and the mushrooms that we see are simply the fruiting body of the fungus.

The largest living thing or organism on earth is…

Therefore, based on the latest scientific research the winner for the largest living thing or organism on Earth is a Honey Fungus in Oregon!