Interspecies Conflict/Who Would Win?


Hi again Bk how are things going? Things are great where I live because I've got the whole weekend off. So now lets get down to the questions.

1. Kodiak bear vs Giraffe

2. American bison vs Yak

3. Leopard vs Mandrill

4. Gorilla vs Jaguar

5. If komodo dragons lived around hippos, would they be capable of preying on the hippos like they would with buffaloes?

6. Could the sting from a box jellyfish kill a Cape Buffalo?

7. Polar bears are considered to be the largest land predators in the world. I'm confused because what about walrus, elephant seals, and lets not forget nile and saltwater crocodiles?

8. Lion vs Bengal Tiger

9. Black Bear vs Gorilla

Thank you

Hello Trish.  All's good here.

1. Kodiak bear vs Giraffe: The giraffe can weigh well over twice as much as a Kodiak bear.  Giraffes are the tallest land animals, sometimes reaching over 18ft in height.  They are peaceful animals, but they are capable of defending themselves against predators (like lions and hyenas) with very strong kicks.  Even groups of lions have failed to bring down one of these giants on a hunt, and many lions have been injured by the giraffe as it defended itself.  A Kodiak bear is a very powerful animal with great endurance and durability.  It is armed with mighty jaws and huge paws (with long claws).  Kodiak bears aren't accustomed to dealing with large, mobile prey the size of a giraffe (they usually eat fish and sometimes fruit).  A giraffe's kick is strong enough to injure a bear, and the bear isn't mobile enough to avoid being a target if it gets close.  The bear's paw swipes probably won't reach any vital areas.  A direct hit on the giraffe's leg might wobble it, but the likelihood of that kind of precision is low.  I would favor a Kodiak bear against an equal-weight giraffe, but not one over twice as heavy.  Giraffe wins.

2. American bison vs Yak: These animals can be close in weight.  The American bison is the largest land animal in the Americas, and a full-grown one can be a very formidable adversary.  The bison has short horns that protrude from the sides of its head and curve upward.  Its shoulder area is very pronounced, and it typically battles other bulls by ramming with its heavy head.  A bison will hook with its horns as well, and can kick with great effect to defend itself from predators.  Yaks are docile bovids with shaggy coats and long, curved horns.  Despite their non-confrontational nature, they are capable of defending themselves if needed (with horns & hooves).  An American bison is more aggressive and combative than the yak, and it occasionally deals with formidable predators (wolves and bears).  The difference in temperament is a big factor in this fight.  American bison wins.

3. Leopard vs Mandrill: A large tom leopard can weigh almost twice as much as a large mandrill.  A leopard is one of the strongest cats pound-for-pound, and has a very muscular shoulder and neck area.  It also has very strong limbs, and can haul large prey items (like impala and warthog) up into trees.  The leopard encounters (and sometimes battles) other dangerous animals in its African habitat (especially spotted hyenas).  Its large jaws and sharp teeth can apply a finishing bite to the throat of an opponent, and its sharp claws can grip hide to help the cat move into the position it wants.  A mandrill is a large baboon-like primate with a colored face.  It is a mobile animal with grabbing hands and very sharp canines exceeding 2" in length.  This monkey can be quite aggressive when defending itself from attackers.  Leopards often encounter baboons (and mandrills), and sometimes predate upon them.  However, a large male baboon can easily inflict serious injuries to a leopard with its dangerous teeth, and even the largest of leopards will avoid confronting them.  A leopard is a solitary hunter and can't afford a debilitating injury, and will usually shy away from a dangerous conflict unless engaging in one is absolutely necessary.  Male baboons have treed leopards weighing more than they do.  Only a desperately hungry leopard will risk attacking a full-grown mandrill, and will likely slink away if confronted by one.  However, if the leopard is determined to attack the mandrill and battle it to the end, it will have the physical tools to succeed more times than not.  The big cat will be able to kill the primate if it wants to, but will likely receive several bloody wounds in the process.  Realistically the leopard won't attempt a kill with an adult male mandrill, but it will be favored in a hypothetical fight to the death.  Leopard wins.        

4. Gorilla vs Jaguar: A jaguar will weigh about 2/3 the gorilla's weight.  Jaguars are the strongest cats pound-for-pound, and they have stocky bodies with short, powerful legs.  Their bite force is high enough to pierce turtle shells, caiman armor, and even the tough covering of armadillos.  Jaguars have the typical "big cat" attributes (speed, agility, athleticism, good weaponry, etc.), and often predate upon dangerous quarry (tapir, peccaries, etc.).  They typically bite through a victim's skull to dispatch it, but will also target the spine.  Gorilla are muscular animals with strong bites, 2-inch canines, and powerful forearms (spanning 8.5ft) that can be used to grab or strike.  These apes are usually peaceful and non-confrontational.  Gorillas aren't accustomed to taking on large animals of another species, but jaguars are.  Although these primates will fight to the death to defend themselves or their families, most confrontations don't involve serious physical contact (bluffing is usually enough).  An angry gorilla will likely succeed in intimidating a jaguar into a retreat in a realistic face-to-face scenario (the jaguar might not risk taking on a gorilla without an ambush), but a jaguar intent on completing a kill should be able to do so more times than not.  The jaguar's bite, claws, and killing experience will be enough to overcome the gorilla's size and strength in a serious battle.  The cat will close in on the gorilla and use its agility and quickness to find a good location to sink its teeth into.  Edge to jaguar.

5. If komodo dragons lived around hippos, would they be capable of preying on the hippos like they would with buffaloes?
A: Komodo dragons are powerful reptiles with claws suited for effective digging, a whip-like tail, and a dangerous bite with sharp teeth (up to 1" long) used to tear flesh.  It was once believed that the Komodo dragon's bite was effective in dispatching victims based solely on the presence of bacteria, but it is now known that the komodo also produces a toxin that can induce shock in its prey.  A Komodo dragon could successfully ambush an adult hippo in theory, but there would be some differences when compared with ambushing a buffalo.  Buffalo will usually flee or move away when bitten by a Komodo dragon, but a hippo (which is highly aggressive and territorial) will likely launch a counter-attack with its massive jaws that will prove lethal to the reptile.  Komodo dragons hunt on land (even though they often swim), and would need to wait for a young hippo to venture away from the water's edge to have a decent chance at a kill.  A Komodo dragon can kill an adult hippo (eventually) with a penetrating bite to an area on the mammal's body that doesn't have the 6" skin covering it, but the risk will be too high.  Once the 2 species become familiar with one another, the Komodo dragon will likely avoid the adults and only target lone sub-adults or babies.

6. Could the sting from a box jellyfish kill a Cape Buffalo?
A: I think it could, but conditionally.  Several online articles I've come across state that a box jellyfish has enough venom to kill 60 humans.  Let's say the average human weighs about 180lb.  That would be over 5 tons of mammal that could be potentially killed by a full envenomation by a box jellyfish.  A large Cape buffalo typically doesn't exceed 1,500lb, which is well below the 5-ton amount.  A Cape buffalo will probably be somewhat more resistant (pound-for-pound) to most toxins than a human will be, but that difference won't likely be enough to keep the bovid safe from a full venom dose by a box jellyfish.  The king cobra's venom isn't as powerful as the box jellyfish's venom, yet the snake is capable of killing an adult elephant with its bite.  However, a couple of other online articles state the king cobra can kill 20 humans with the venom of one bite.  That's about 3,600lb of mammal, which is much less than what a 6-ton elephant will weigh.  I don't have a comparison of how much more (or how much less) venom a king cobra can inject than a box jellyfish, so I'm not sure.  The hide of a Cape buffalo is much tougher than the skin of a human, so the sting of the jellyfish might not affect it as much because the full amount of venom might not even get into the bovid's bloodstream.  I think that if a Cape buffalo was swimming in the waters inhabited by the box jellyfish and was stung by one, it would probably initially survive more times than not.  I don't believe all of the venom released by the jellyfish's tentacles will actually make it through the buffalo's skin enough to give it a lethal dose on most occasions (I could be wrong, however, because the tiny "projectiles" called nematocysts that are fired into the victim are done so with a lot of force).  If all the venom is injected, I think we have a dead buffalo.  I just don't think all of it will get through every time.  If some venom gets through and the buffalo initially survives, it may eventually succumb to the toxin's effect, but recovery may be a possibility too.  I don't know for sure, though.

7. Polar bears are considered to be the largest land predators in the world. I'm confused because what about walrus, elephant seals, and lets not forget nile and saltwater crocodiles?
A: Walruses, elephant seals, and crocodiles often venture onto land, but they are primarily aquatic.  Because of this, they aren't classified as "land" animals.  The walrus (over 2 tons), elephant seal (about 4 tons), Nile crocodile (about 1 ton) and saltwater crocodile (over 1 ton) can easily exceed a polar bear's weight (3/4 ton) at their heaviest, and are all indeed predators.  If you made a list of "largest predators that ever go onto land", these 4 creatures would easily move ahead of the polar bear.  An argument can be made for a polar bear being an "aquatic" animal as well, but it spends most of the warmer months residing on land.  Even though a polar bear is the most aquatic of all the bears and spends a great deal of time in the water, it is still largely considered a "land" animal, and is usually assigned the top spot on a "largest land predator" list.

8. Lion vs Bengal Tiger: The Bengal tiger will weigh approximately 10% more than an African lion.  These are 2 very similar creatures biologically, and there are only subtle differences between the two (the lion is slightly taller at the shoulder; the tiger is slightly longer).  Both cats have strength, speed, agility, athleticism, and the ability to battle at a very high level for a short amount of time (typical "big cat" attributes).  The male lion is charged with the protection of the pride.  Other male lions will attempt to invade the pride to gain territory and females, and the leader of the pride must do battle (sometimes to the death) to keep his throne.  As a result, male lions are constantly fighting other male lions.  Even at kills, lions will fight amongst themselves for their share of the food.  Tigers are usually solitary hunters (hunting in pairs has occurred), but males will sometimes fight over territory (just not as often as lions will).  The mane of the lion is used primarily to intimidate rivals and attract females, but can also serve to soften the paw strikes of a rival male.  A male tiger is a better hunter than a male lion, but the lion will probably have the slightest of edges in combat if the weights are about even.  Because the tiger will have a decent weight advantage, it will have the slight edge over the lion.  Edge to Bengal tiger.  

9. Black Bear vs Gorilla: The American black bear will weigh approximately 25% more than the gorilla.  Gorillas are very strong animals with powerful arms, grabbing hands, and dangerous bites.  However, they are normally peaceful, and aren't used to engaging animals of other species in face-to-face conflict.  This isn't to say these primates aren't capable fighters, but their lack of experience will be a detriment.  An angry gorilla beating its chest and showing its teeth is a very intimidating sight, but conflicts among them rarely get serious.  It can use its forelimbs offensively, but will primarily grab, pull, and bite.  Black bears are better armed than gorillas because of the presence of claws.  They are extremely strong (possibly stronger than the gorilla pound-for-pound), and have very good endurance.  Bears can rip open hide with paw swipes, and can use the claws (and forelimbs) to grip into an opponent's body to deliver a damaging bite.  A silverback gorilla defending his troop might easily intimidate an invading black bear into a retreat in a realistic scenario, but he will be outmatched in a serious battle.  The Asiatic black bear is smaller than an American black bear, but it will be very close to a gorilla's weight (20lb less at max weights), and will be favored as well.  Black bears are simply better equipped for battle than gorillas.  Black bear wins.

Enjoy your weekend!

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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