Interspecies Conflict/Honey badger


Hello BK,
I would like to ask you two questions.
1) Who is more aggressive, a cape buffalo or a honey badger?

2)Can a male African bush elephant in must defeat a tyrannosaurus rex?


Hello Emanuele.

Q: Who is more aggressive, a Cape buffalo or a honey badger?
A: Both can certainly be very aggressive at times, but I'd give the edge to the honey badger.  Honey badgers have earned a reputation for being fearless & ferocious, and it is merited for the most part.  Honey badgers often engage in conflict with other dangerous animals without backing down, and will drive larger animals (including leopards) away with their aggression.  These mustelids have thick, loose skin that provides protection from many types of attack, including biting, clawing, stabbing, & stinging (from bees).  Honey badgers boldly attack & kill cobras, and have a resistance to their venomous bites.  These adaptations, along with strong jaws & claws, powerful limbs, great endurance, & supple bodies give the honey badger a formidable arsenal that serves them well in conflicts.  Cape buffaloes are typically ill-tempered & unpredictable, and can be aggressive when defending themselves.  Their thick, curved horns make dangerous weapons, and these muscular bovids have killed lions in confrontations.  Cape buffaloes typically assemble in large groups, and will sometimes move away from approaching danger as opposed to becoming immediately confrontational.  The size of the herd is often enough to prevent an attack from an enemy, but if push comes to shove, the Cape buffaloes are quite capable of repelling a pride of lions (which usually must isolate a single animal to have success).  Cape buffaloes have killed humans (even after getting shot), and are a risky proposition for any big-game hunter.  Honey badgers & Cape buffaloes are rated high in terms of aggression, but honey badgers are active, opportunistic predators that almost seem to relish conflict while Cape buffaloes will sometimes attempt to avoid it (and spend a lot of time grazing peacefully).  Although both can be aggressive, the honey badger has the edge.

Q: Can a male African bush elephant in musth defeat a Tyrannosaurus rex?
A: An African elephant can weigh close to the weight of a Tyrannosaurus rex, but will typically be about 75-80% of the dinosaur's weight.  An elephant in musth is extremely aggressive & reckless, and will usually charge & attack anything that moves.  African elephants are very strong animals armed with sharp tusks, and are largely impervious to attack when full-grown.  A bull African elephant has only large lion prides (and other bull elephants) that can present problems for it once it reaches adulthood.  The Tyrannosaurus rex was believed to be a fearsome hunter, and was armed with a huge skull (almost 1.5 meters long) with jaws lined with long, sharp teeth (some nearly as long as pencils).  This huge theropod often dealt with large, well-armed herbivores (like Triceratops) that equaled or exceeded the African elephant in size, and was experienced in doing so.  Triceratops, for example, was a ceratopsian with a huge frilled skull armed with 2 long brow horns used to impale attackers with great effect.  Adult elephants don't deal with any predators close to their own size, and one would probably flee at the approach of a Tyrannosaurus rex.  An elephant in musth might actually stand its ground and even attack the Tyrannosaurus without regard to its own safety, but would not be experienced in taking on such a formidable foe.  The elephant could potentially injure (or drive away) the huge reptile, but its chances of actually overcoming it aren't good.  The Tyrannosaurus would know how to deal with the elephant better than the elephant would know how to deal with it.  The bite of the Tyrannosaurus rex would create huge avulsions in the elephant's body, and it would likely succumb to loss of blood before too much time passed.  The elephant's tusks could be somewhat effective in this battle (not as effective as a Triceratops' horns, though), and its charge might even have toppled the predator, but its lack of armor would leave it vulnerable to the Tyrannosaurus' bite regardless of which way it was facing (unlike a Triceratops, which was generally safe as long as it kept an attacking theropod in front of it).  A bull African elephant would indeed have the ability to defeat a Tyrannosaurus rex if everything fell into place for it, but it would not succeed against this giant carnivore on most occasions.

Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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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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