What Animal Can Lift 50 Times Its Own Weight?

Perhaps you think it might be the ferocious lion or the enormous elephant, but guess again. It’s actually the tiny ant, which may be as small as 1/16 of an inch or as long as 2 inches. Whatever its size, this tiny insect can carry up to 50 times its own weight.

What is probably most surprising about this is the fact that the ant does not have any bones, only a horny skin to serve as a protective covering. But it does have very powerful jaws which it uses to cut and carry leaves, flowers, seeds, twigs, wood, dirt, cocoons, and even parts of larger animals, including crocodiles and lions, that armies of thousands of ants have killed.

If a 175-pound man had the equivalent strength of an ant, he would be able to lift 4 tons with his teeth!

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  • Michel Fitzgerald

    The model is wrong! If we assume the same stress level in muscle cross sections then the strength/weight ratio of geometrically similar organisms is inversely proportional to their length/height. Thus if we assume that a man of height 1800mm has a strength/weight ratio of 1 i.e. he can lift his own weight then a man of height the size of an ant, 3mm say, should have a strength/weight ratio of 1800/3=600. Thus the ant with a strength/weight ratio of 50 is relatively weak!!!!

  • Anonymous

    The tropical Orbitid Mite (Archegozetes longisetosus) lifts up to 1182 times its own weight. (Heethoff & Koerner 2007).

    Not sure if this is the strongest but it’s stronger than an ant.

    Heethoff, M. & Koerner, L. (2007): Small but powerful – The oribatid mite Archegozetes longisetosus Aoki (Acari, Oribatida) produces disproportionate high forces. J. Exp. Biol. ‘210’(17): 3036–3042. doi:10.1242/jeb.008276 (Abstract).