Interspecies Conflict/battle questions


QUESTION: How strong is an elephant's trunk? What damage would it do to a rhino? how good is its sense of smell?
giant otter vs goliath tiger fish ( in water where they can both move freely)
emu vs cassowary
Anteosaurus magnificus vs Inostrancevia alexandr
Harpy Eagle vs Southern Cassowary
wolverine vs african wild dog
gray wolf vs troodon
eurasian badger vs honey badger
common wombat vs wolverine
Smilodon fatalis vs Kelenken
Honey Badger vs Velociraptor

ANSWER: Hello Johnny.

Q: How strong is an elephant's trunk?
A: The muscular trunk of the elephant is very strong, and can be used to accomplish impressive feats of strength.  Domestic elephants can carry several hundred pounds of teak with their trunks, and wild ones can pull down branches & bend trees over quite readily.  

Q: What damage would it do to a rhino?
A: Not much.  The trunk of an elephant isn't typically used as an offensive weapon, but can be utilized to hold something in place in order to use its tusks.  An elephant might use it to help deter a rhino's movement at close quarters, but there's no reasonable way for it to cause damage to a rhino without using it in concert with the other assets the pachyderm employs in battle (body weight/tusks).  The elephant's trunk is strong, but it's primarily an instrument of skill.

Q: How good is its sense of smell?
A: Elephants have an excellent sense of smell (they can actually smell water from miles away by waving their trunks in the air).  An elephant's sense of smell is probably on par or greater than most other land animals (the bear being one exception).

Giant otter vs Goliath tiger fish (in water where they can both move freely): A giant otter will be close to the weight of the goliath tigerfish.  Otters have great mobility in the water, and this will be its biggest advantage.  The tigerfish has fearsome jaws with long, pointed teeth that can cause a lot of damage to an otter, but catching it will be another matter.  The bite of an otter won't have as much effect on the tigerfish (scales) as the tigerfish's bite will have on the otter, but the mustelid will likely land many bites before it gets bitten itself.  The otter will be in the most danger when it tries to land a bite on the tigerfish (because that's the fish's best chance to counter).  Could go either way; slightest of edges to the giant otter.

Emu vs Cassowary: These birds are similar in size (the emu is slightly heavier & taller).  Cassowaries are generally regarded to be the most dangerous bird to man due to their aggressive nature & deadly kicks, but the emu's abilities are similar.  An emu's strong legs are suited for running swiftly for long distances, but they can be used as weapons as well.  One of the cassowary's claws can reach the length of a ballpoint pen, which probably makes its kicks a bit more effective than the kicks of the emu (which has shorter claws).  Cassowary wins.  

Anteosaurus magnificus vs Inostrancevia alexandr: The Anteosaurus was around twice as heavy as Inostrancevia.  Inostrancevia was better suited for movement on land (as Anteosaurus spent a lot of time in the water & had smaller legs) and was armed with large jaws with impressive upper canines.  Inostrancevia would have been able to use its better mobility to get into a good position to use its dangerous bite with great effect on some occasions, but the counter-bite of the larger, slower Anteosaurus would have found its mark just as often (because the short, stockier legs of Inostrancevia meant that even though it was more mobile than Anteosaurus, it wasn't as mobile as, let's say, a big cat).  The Inostrancevia would have gotten the jump on Anteosaurus during the initial stages of the battle, but wouldn't have been quick enough to avoid a counter-attack from the larger creature every time.  Slight edge to Anteosaurus magnificus.

Harpy Eagle vs Southern Cassowary: The cassowary is much heavier than the harpy eagle, but it is at a unique disadvantage.  Much like the prehistoric moa was usually defenseless against the Haast's eagle despite weighing 12-15 times as much, it will be a similar situation here, as the cassowary's kicks won't be easily utilized against an aerial attack from a raptor.  The harpy eagle would be able to seriously injure the cassowary with an attack from its talons, and could pull this off even if the larger bird saw it coming.  If a failed attack places the harpy eagle on the ground at any time during the battle, it can be killed by the cassowary's kick, but this scenario isn't likely to occur.  Cassowaries can defend themselves well from terrestrial threats, but aerial ones pose a serious challenge.  Harpy eagle wins.

Wolverine vs African wild dog: The African hunting dog will have a 70% weight advantage over the wolverine.  The wolverine is a very strong animal pound-for-pound, and can be bold & aggressive.  The mustelid has thick fur, sharp claws, & a bone-crushing bite.  The African wild dog is nimble, and has a strong bite force of its own, but it typically takes on other animals in a group.  In a realistic situation the wolverine would likely succeed in driving the wild dog away, but a persistent one could make a good fight of it.  The wolverine has a more robust & supple body than the canid, and it has a greater variety of weapons at its disposal.  Close battle, but the wolverine has the slightest of edges.  Wolverine wins.

Gray wolf vs Troodon: The grey wolf would have a slight weight advantage over the Troodon.  Grey wolves are nimble predators with strong jaws & great endurance.  Troodons were small theropods that may have predated upon small animals.  Troodon had a brain that weighed 1/100th its own weight (the same as many of today's birds), and was considered to be intelligent based on this.  However, its slender build & less-formidable weaponry (smaller jaws & grabbing forelimbs) wouldn't have endured a wolf attack for very long.  Grey wolf wins.

Eurasian badger vs Honey badger: These animals are close in size (Eurasian badger is a bit longer; the honey badger is a bit more robust).  Both have similar capabilities offensively (strong bites/sharp claws), and both have tough hides that make it difficult for an attacker to cause injury.  Honey badgers are generally more aggressive, and deal with a larger variety of formidable adversaries (lions, leopards, jackals, etc.).  Edge to honey badger.

Common wombat vs Wolverine: A common wombat can weigh almost 3 times as much as a honey badger.  Wombats have compact bodies, tough hides, and strong limbs (with sharp claws used for digging).  They can bite & claw adversaries, and have been known to knock people over by charging into them!  Honey badgers are thick-skinned & fearless, and have a potent set of jaws & claws as well.  This fight wouldn't likely end by one animal dispatching the other, but likely one animal driving the other one away.  A wombat is typically docile, and wouldn't be as nimble as the feisty honey badger.  In a realistic confrontation, the wombat would probably succeed in driving the honey badger away (using its size advantage), but a determined honey badger might have a chance to inflict an accumulation of wounds that would eventually overcome the marsupial.  However, it would be an uphill battle for the honey badger against a 40kg wombat.  I would favor a honey badger against a wombat twice its weight, but a wombat at these weights would likely have enough power to repel the ratel.  The wombat doesn't have the means to kill the honey badger (unless the fight is in a tunnel), but it can defend itself well enough to discourage the mustelid more times than not.  Slight edge to common wombat.

Smilodon fatalis vs Kelenken: The Smilodon was slightly heavier than the Keleken.  Smilodon fatalis was as large as today's lions & tigers, and Keleken was almost as tall as a modern-day ostrich (but about 50% heavier).  Keleken was a "terror bird" that likely used its huge beak to savagely bite opponents (or as a hammer to smash with).  Smilodon would have needed to be careful on its initial approach (as Keleken probably kicked as well), but the powerful felid would have been able to use its agility & leaping ability to tackle the bird (and perhaps knock it to the ground).  Once Smilodon made contact (and gained a favorable position by using its muscular forelimbs), the Keleken's weapons would have less effectiveness, and the felid would have a good chance of finishing the terror bird with a bite to the neck.  Smilodon fatalis wins.

Honey Badger vs Velociraptor: The Velociraptor will be slightly heavier than the honey badger.  Velociraptors had decent jaws, claws on its forelimbs to aid in grabbing & holding, and dangerous, curved claws to kick & slash with.  Honey badgers have thick, loose skin that offers good protection from attack, and are armed with strong legs (with sharp claws) & a powerful bite.  Honey badgers are fearless & aggressive, and can drive away much larger animals, but they aren't practiced finishers (of similar-sized animals) on the same level of, let's say, a big cat.  The honey badger will need to avoid a claw vs claw/bite vs bite affair unless it can attach itself to the Velociraptor with its strong claws (to better avoid the dinosaur's kicks) and deliver strong bites while relying on its tough hide to protect it.  The honey badger will employ this tactic against smaller reptiles, but it might not have the know-how to stay out of the range of the larger Velociraptor's kicks at the onset of the battle.  The honey badger can win if it drags the Velociraptor to the ground, but the diversified offense of the theropod will present problems for the mustelid.  It's a very close fight at equal weights, but the Velociraptor has a small weight advantage here.  Slight edge to Velociraptor.

Best regards.

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

QUESTION: In my question about "Common wombat vs Wolverine" you replaced the wolverine with the honey badger. Is the battle that similar? The wolverine is larger than the badger.
cassowary vs sun bear
maned wolf vs red wolf
striped hyena vs mandrill

Hello again Johnny.

Q: In my question about "Common wombat vs Wolverine" you replaced the wolverine with the honey badger. Is the battle that similar? The wolverine is larger than the badger.
A: The "common wombat vs honey badger" was a question I had answered at an earlier date, and for some reason I had honey badger on the brain when answering your "common wombat vs wolverine" question (so I used the same answer by mistake).  My apologies for the oversight!  Wolverines & honey badgers are close in fighting ability at parity (wolverines may be a bit more formidable), but like you stated, the wolverine is the larger animal (about 20% heavier).  A "common wombat vs wolverine" would be similar in regards to how each animal would approach the fight, but the result would actually be different.

Common wombat vs Wolverine: The wombat will weigh double the wolverine's weight.  Wombats have compact bodies, tough hides (especially in the rear section), and strong limbs (with sharp claws used for digging).  They can bite & claw adversaries, and have been known to knock people over by charging into them!  Wolverines are very strong animal pound-for-pound, and can be bold & aggressive.  It has thick fur, sharp claws, & a bite strong enough to crunch through frozen meat & bone.  Wolverines are supple animals, and can attack & counter-attack effectively from various positions with its sharp claws (by swiping or gripping) and powerful bite.  Wolverines are feisty enough to stand up to bears & wolf packs in attempts to protect/usurp a kill, and are capable of subduing large prey animals (like caribou, but usually in deep snow).  A wombat would probably be able to drive a wolverine away by using its larger size from time-to-time, but it would have trouble with a determined one.  A wombat doesn't have the ability to finish/subdue another decent-sized animal without the benefit of its burrow (where it can crush an attacker against the sides by pressing its body against it), and would have some difficulty countering a wolverine once the mustelid decided to latch itself to the marsupial.  This would be a close fight, but the more combative wolverine would have a better idea of how to succeed than the wombat on most occasions.  Edge to wolverine.

Cassowary vs Sun bear: These animals will be similar in weight.  The sun bear has sharp claws, a powerful bite, & great endurance (like all bears do).  They can be fierce fighters, and their 4" claws can do a lot of damage to an adversary.  Cassowaries are considered to be the most dangerous bird, and are capable of killing a human with its deadly kicks.  The sun bear would likely be driven away by the cassowary in a realistic encounter, but a determined sun bear would have a decent chance to subdue the bird.  The kicks of the cassowary could injure the bear, but the ursid would use its strength to dominate once it got close enough to make contact with the bird.  Both can win, but the bear is solid & well-armed, and should prevail on most occasions if its determined to attack.  Sun bear wins.

Maned wolf vs Red wolf: The red wolf will weigh about 75% more than the maned wolf.  The maned wolf usually takes on small prey items (rabbits, birds, mice, insects) and is not built as solidly as wolves or coyotes.  It is tall, slender, and built like a fox.  The red wolf is a most solidly-built animal, and is a more capable combatant.  The red wolf would win at parity, and it has a decent size advantage here as well.  Even a coyote would send a maned wolf packing.  Red wolf wins.

Striped hyena vs Mandrill: These animals will be similar in weight.  Mandrills are the largest of the baboons, and have good mobility & long, upper canines to aid them in a confrontation.  Striped hyenas are bold & feisty (have stood up to wolves & leopards), and have a very strong bite force.  They aren't as solidly built as the larger spotted hyena, but are still tough animals in their own right.  The striped hyena & the mandrill have dangerous bites that can cause different types of damage to one another, but the mandrill's mobility would probably enable it to land most bites over the course of the battle.  A well-placed, crushing bite from the striped hyena could spell trouble for the mandrill (especially if it employed the "bite & shake" technique).  The grabbing hands of the mandrill could impede the movement of the hyena's head to some degree as well as help with the placements of its own bite.  The teeth of the mandrill can cause piercing wounds that can induce blood loss after several bites hit their target, and the hyena might have trouble preventing this from happening.  Very close fight; slight edge to the mandrill.

Best regards.  

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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.


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.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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