Wild record-breakers

by Wayne
Publish date
1 July 2012
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 Your Question: Animals break records too?  Really?

"I love the exhibition Wild: Amazing Animals in a changing World and wanted to know more about birds and mammals, and the amazing things they can do."

It is true, animals break records too, but not in the same way Olympians do, or those fighting for recognition in the Guinness Book of Records. Below are some interesting facts about birds and mammals, some of which you can see in the exhibition.

What mammals or birds have the…

Fastest heartbeat – Hummingbirds.  Hummingbirds are native to North and South America and are the little birds that hover mid air.  They are also the only bird that can fly backwards.

Detail of hummingbird case Detail of a hummingbird on display in the Wild exhibition.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Fastest runner – the Cheetah. Unlike other big cats, the Cheetah has blunt claws that cannot be retracted. 

Fastest swimmers – Penguins. Penguins spend their life half on the land and in the water.

Fastest flyers – Pigeons are the fastest straight line flyers, but falcons are the fastest flyers overall, so falcons can hunt pigeons!

Slowest heartbeat – the Blue Whale.  Blue Whales can be up to 27 metres long.  You can see the articulated skeleton of a Blue Whale outside the entrance to the Science and Life Gallery.

Slowest mover – Sloths. There are both Two-toed and Three-toed Sloths found in tropical South America.

Maned Three-toed Sloth Maned Three-toed Sloth, a mounted mammal specimen in the Wild exhibition.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria

Tallest – the Giraffe. There are nine subspecies of giraffe, and Africa is the only place where they can be found naturally. 

Shortest – a shrew. Shrews are small mouse-like carnivorous mammals with (proportionally) long pointed noses.

Longest gestation – the African Elephant. A female African Elephant is a cow and her young a calf.

Shortest gestation – the Opossum. The gestation period of the opossum is between 12 and 14 days. 

Didelphis virginiana, Virginia Opossum mounted mammal specimen A mounted Virginia Opossum specimen from the Wild exhibition.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

Found in the most places across the world – humans! 

Most endangered – This one is difficult to answer. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources produces the Red list of Threatened Species. It is a globally-recognised comprehensive tool that records the conservation status of plants and animals and Museum Victoria used the Red List when recording the status of animals in the exhibition.

Got a question? Ask us!


WILD: Amazing Animals in a changing World

IUCN Red List

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About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.