Interspecies Conflict/Rating

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QUESTION: Hey again,

Thanks for getting to my last question so fast.
If you don't mind, I have 3 groups of animals that I would like you to organize from most dominant to least dominant in a one on one situation. (no running away or ambushes) and then take the three groups and put them together into one group and organize them in the same fashion. This will take long enough as it is, so need to explain your thoughts on why you chose what you chose.

(Also assume each animal is at its largest subspecies and max size)

For example:
_____________

gorilla
fox
elephant
butterfly

would be organized into:
_____________

elephant
gorilla
fox
butterfly


Here we go:

Group 1
_________

Bison
Warthog
African elephant
Wildebeest
Moose
River hippo
Big horn
Gaur
Entelodont
Cape buffalo
White rhino


Group 2
________

African lion
Spotted hyena
Andrewsarchus
Puma
Jaguar
Grey Wolf
Liger
Bear Dog
Common leopard
Siberian tiger
Megistotherium
Cheetah
Hyenadon



Group 3
________


Sloth Bear
Kodiak bear
Black bear
Megatherium
Giant panda
Diprotodon
Sarkastodon
Gigantopithecus
Mandrill
Polar bear
Mountain gorilla
Short Faced Bear

Thank you so much.

ANSWER: Hello again Martin.  

There are a couple of things about these lists I should mention.  There are many estimates of the sizes of prehistoric animals, and the range of these weights is sometimes vast.  I am using what I consider to be the most reliable top-end weights for these animals.  For the prehistoric animals, I will list the weights beside them so you will be able to see where I'm coming from.  Another point to bring up is how certain animals are better suited to take on others due to physiology, and just because one animal can defeat another on most occasions, it doesn't mean it can also defeat all of the animals the other one can.  A polar bear can defeat a tiger, but a tiger is better suited to take on, let's say, a hippo or a giraffe (not saying the tiger would win, but it would have a better chance than the bear would).  Even though the polar bear is ill-suited to tackle a hippo or a giraffe, it can still best the tiger on most occasions.  Despite this, I will try to make the list as correct as possible.

Group 1:
african elephant
white rhinoceros
river hippopotamus
entelodont 1000kg
gaur
bison
cape buffalo
moose
wildebeest
warthog
bighorn sheep

Group 2:
andrewsarchus 1000kg
megistotherium 880kg
hyaenodon 500kg
bear dog 363kg
siberian tiger
lion
liger
jaguar
spotted hyena
leopard
puma
wolf
cheetah

Group 3:
megatherium 4536kg (5 tons)
short-faced bear 1588kg
diprotodon 1814kg (2 tons)
kodiak bear
polar bear
sarkastodon 456kg
gigantopithecus 544kg
black bear
sloth bear
mountain gorilla
giant panda
mandrill

Entire group:
african elephant
megatherium
white rhinoceros
short-faced bear
river hippopotamus
entelodont
andrewsarchus
megistotherium
diprotodon
gaur
bison
kodiak bear
polar bear
hyaenodon
sarkastodon
cape buffalo
bear dog
siberian tiger
lion
moose
liger
gigantopithecus
black bear
jaguar
sloth bear
mountain gorilla
spotted hyena
leopard
puma
giant panda
warthog
wildebeest
wolf
bighorn sheep
mandrill
cheetah

It is impossible to make a perfect order here.  For example, the gorilla will usually best the leopard & the puma face-to-face, but the gorilla would probably be lost if it tried to take on a warthog or a wildebeest.  The 2 cats can successfully do this.  The hyena would probably get the better of the encounter with a leopard or a puma (due to the cats backing down to avoid injury so they can continue to hunt), but in a fight to the finish the cats would likely prevail.  A hyena would lose to the panda, but a leopard might could pull it off.  The Kodiak & polar bears are ranked ahead of the Cape buffalo due to them being able to defeat a larger variety of opponents here, but would probably have difficulty tackling the Cape buffalo itself.  The Gigantopitecus would be able to intimidate more animals on here than the black bear (and might intimidate the black bear itself), but it's debatable whether or not it could actually defeat the black bear.  Several animals could be moved up or down on this list, but solving one inconsistency would create another.

If you want me to focus on a particular matchup or explain a reason for a ranking, send me a follow-up and I'll be happy to oblige.

Best regards.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hey BK,

I just have a couple questions due to some of your choices, I was just wondering why you chose to put the liger below its smaller feline relatives and also put it below the moose which has been known to be taken down by much smaller predators.

Andrewsarchus and entelodont, both only have there jaws as weaponry but the andrewsarchus has the size advantage, I was wondering why you chose the entelodont ahead of it?

Last but not least why the short face bear is ranked so high, maybe there is something I do not knish about this animal, can you explain a scenario where a short faced bear has a one on one fight with a river hippo.

Thank you

Answer
Hello again Martin.

Ligers are huge and look quite impressive, but their agility, stamina, aggressiveness, and hunting/fighting instincts are not on par with lions & tigers.  While their great size might be enough to give them the victory one-on-one against a lion or a tiger (that might be only half its size), their ability to deal with a variety of opponents in this manner would be poor enough in comparison to merit them being placed lower on the list than a lion or a tiger.  A bull moose can tip the scales at well over 700kg, and while they are occasionally taken by smaller predators, it is often by ambush or with a numbers advantage.  There are very few predators that can take on a bull moose face-to-face and prevail.  It can be done, and a liger has the physical tools to pull it off, but chances are it won't know how.  A liger placed in the wild would not survive, primarily due to the fact that hunting & capturing prey would be problematic on several different levels.  If the abilities & know-how of a lion or a tiger could be injected into a liger, it would dominate a moose (ambush or face-to-face).

The weights used for the Andrewsarchus and the Enteledont in the list are the same (1000kg).  If the Andrewsarchus was indeed heavier, I would give it the nod.  At equal weights these 2 are close to even, but I gave the edge to the Enteledont because of its cranial protrusions (that helped protect its head from the bites of adversaries), its more robust, stocky build (similar to a bison from the neck back), its large tusks, and its bone-crushing bite.  Andrewsarchus may have been slender or stocky (debatable), and the slender version would have been somewhat like a wolf from the head back.  The Andrewsarchus didn't have sharp teeth, but its jaws could crush with a force comparable to the Enteledont.  The slender version may have been more agile, but the Enteledont probably had a more damaging bite and more durable hide.  If the Andrewsarchus was actually stocky (which would raise its max weight), it would probably be favored against the Enteledont at parity.  Close to a 50/50 at equal weights, but I think the Enteledont has the ability to cause more damage to the Andrewsarchus in a battle than the other way around.

The conservative estimates for the short-faced bear are around 1000kg, but many believe one version of this ursid (called Arctotherium) reached almost 1600kg.  A bear this size would be close to 2 meters (6.5ft)at the shoulder.  The Arctotherium was the one I used for this list.  If we use the short-faced bear weighing 1000kg, I would move it down below the river hippopotamus on this list.  The short-faced bear would not be able to defeat the river hippopotamus on most occasions because it wouldn't be large enough to cause significant injury to the hippo before getting chomped on by the hippo's massive jaws (the bear's mobility is not good enough to prevent this).  However, in a comparison of each against a common opponent, the short-faced bear would fare better against the Enteledont than the hippo would because its paws could control the head of the pig while it attacked.  If we use the 1588kg bear, it will be strong enough to cause damage to the hippo with massive swipes of it paws, and one bite from the hippo wouldn't be as devastating to the larger bear as it would be to the smaller bear.  This could go both ways, though.  The reason the Arctotherium would be higher on this list than the hippo is due to its ability to defeat a larger range of animals on this list than the hippo can.  The hippo would have trouble with some of the more nimble animals on this list (Daeodon, Andrewsarchus, Megistotherium, Sarkastodon, etc), but the Arctotherium would dominate them all.

Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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BK

Expertise

Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.

Experience

From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Education/Credentials
Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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