Africa looks like two of the last three elephant species in existence. Native to Africa, they are the largest elephant species, growing larger than their Asian counterparts.
Of the two African elephants, the African bush elephant and the African forest elephant, the former is the larger and can be found in more than 37 rural African forests.
Considering how big these animals are and how ferocious they can become, it’s not unusual to wonder how they’d fare in epic battles against some of the largest creatures in history, such as the largest crocodile ever to exist.
Unlike many other conceptual battles, however, it may come as a shock to discover that such a war might actually have taken place in history. Let’s take an objective look at how this epic matchup will end.
What is the largest crocodile ever?
The title of largest crocodile ever lived belongs to the imperial crocodile. Sarcosuchus imperator was a giant crocodile that existed about 9.5 to 115 million years ago and went extinct about 5 to 10 million years ago.
The fossilized remains of an imperial crocodile nicknamed Super Crocodile have been discovered in the desert of the African country of Niger. Scientists discovered the fossils in an area of the Tenere Desert.
Niger also happens to be home to the African bush elephant, which arose about 60 million years ago. As you probably know, the African bush is known to live like a desert, so encounters with these animals are not impossible.
Comparing Sarcosuchus Imperator and African Bush Elephant
|Imperial crocodile||African bush elephant|
|size||Up to 40 feet long and 17,637 pounds|
18.7 feet nostril length
|13′ tall, 24′ long, 15,432 lbs|
Trunk 6 to 7 feet long
|movement and speed||Unspecified, but large alligators can move between 15 and 22 miles per hour||25 miles per hour|
|defense||Good hearing (300 Hz to 8 kHz)|
eyes on top of their heads
Excellent hearing (14 Hz to 12 kHz)
|attack||It cuts the skin with its head and tail like a whip.|
Very strong teeth and jaws for bite
They grab their victims and roll with them, dragging them into the water to drown.
|ivory for piercing|
heavy legs for trampling
Very strong tusks, which they use to grab their victims and slam them into the ground
They head crush their victims
|predatory behavior||ambush man-eating predator|
very aggressive personality
|Elephants are generally non-confrontational and are herbivores.|
What are the main differences between Sarcosuchus Imperator and African bush elephants?
The main difference between Sarcosuchus imperator and African elephants is their size. The super crocodile is almost twice the length of an elephant. However, African elephants can reach up to 13 feet tall, which is much taller than the regal crocodile, although its height is not specified.
Another important factor is how aggressive these animals are. Alligators are known to have average stripes in addition to being extremely aggressive. They are one of the most dangerous animals on earth. That’s not to say elephants aren’t dangerous – they are!
However, they are not as aggressive as crocodiles and rarely attack for no reason. This may be due to their intelligence as well as their nature. Elephants often launch warning attacks to scare humans away, but when a crocodile chases a human, it’s for the blood.
According to a study published by Bill Gates, elephants kill about 100 people a year, while crocodiles kill 1000 people a year, ten times as many!
What is the key factor in the battle between the king crocodile and the African bush elephant?
It is only fair to consider who will win in this battle if certain parameters are considered. Let’s consider two of them.
Given the size of the king crocodile (40 feet and 17,637 pounds) and the African bush elephant (24 feet and 15,432 pounds), it’s easy to see that the super crocodile has an advantage. Not only is it heavier than an African elephant, but its nostrils are about 18.7 feet long, almost as long as the elephant’s entire body.
Elephants usually have an advantage due to their trunk length, sometimes up to 7 feet, but given the size of the regal crocodile’s snout, that’s not the case here.
Although not as large as their ancestors, modern crocodiles sometimes dare to go after elephants. They don’t attack lightly, and almost always use the element of surprise to their advantage.
The crocodile pounced on the victim and pulled it into the water, rolling with it and dragging it into deep water until the victim drowned. They also cut flesh with their heads and tails like whips. The whip of a crocodile’s tail is powerful enough to break a human leg.
However, Elephants also have unique attack abilities. Their torsos are strong enough to lift nearly 800 pounds and slam them on the ground, and they have amazing muscular strength which, combined with their tusks, they use like hands. Additionally, their heavy legs could crush many animals, such as modern crocodiles.
Both animals are quite aggressive, but given that crocodiles are ambush attackers, they would have the upper hand.
Who will win in the battle between the king crocodile and the African bush elephant?
Although an elephant could easily trample a modern crocodile, it would lose the battle against a regal crocodile for a number of reasons. The elephant’s trunk is powerless against the super crocodile’s size and aggression. The Sarcosuchus imperator will only bite the trunk of an elephant as it has an 18.7 foot trunk and an elephant’s 8 foot trunk will be chopped.
Another reason Sarcosuchus imperator wins is its weight. Elephants typically evade crocodiles grabbing their trunks by lifting them into the air and throwing them upwards. They also use huge tusks to lift animals into the air. However, they were unable to lift a king crocodile on its tusk or tree trunk.
Additionally, elephants are far less confrontational and mean than crocodiles, and the sheer aggression of regal crocodiles would put these mammals at another disadvantage.
Another important factor is location. If the fight took place far from the water, the elephant would probably run away because it was faster than a modern crocodile — although it’s worth noting that the supercrocodile could have moved faster than a modern crocodile. Also, if the elephant ran behind the regal crocodile in order to escape, it would have the crocodile use its tail as a whip to whip it.
However, if there is any water nearby, the crocodile will grab the elephant with its jaws and turn or roll without letting go. Given its size, it could easily drag it into the water and drown.
One final point to consider is that modern crocodiles will sometimes kill young elephants, even sick or injured ones, despite being at a disadvantage in size, so a regal crocodile would definitely win in a fight with an African bush elephant.
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I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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