Mihai MUSTĂȚEA 10.52846/AUCSG.22.1.05 10.52846/AUCSG.22.1.05


Large and powerful animals represent a source of fear and fascination for humans and influence the evolution of culture, civilization and science. Although the maximum size reached by such beasts has been the subject of intense controversy, little scientific interest has been given to distinguish reality from fiction. Therefore, the goal of our study was to identify the largest specimens of the contemporary mega fauna. In order to do so, we have a) selected the most representative species and identified the largest specimens through a scientific literature synthesis, b) reconstructed their distinctive physical features through detailed handmade drawings, and c) analyzed their location in relation to the distribution of reserves and intact ecosystems. Our results indicate that the maximum size reached by large water predators, such as sharks and crocodiles, has been much more documented compared to large land carnivores and herbivores. Almost all of the exceptionally large specimens identified were located in protected areas. In several cases, such as the Indian elephant (Elephas maximus) and the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), the largest individuals have been identified in the last couple of decades. The results represent a true statement concerning the importance of preserving mega fauna species, and reveal that, despite increasing human population and pressure over the natural environment, the beast of the animal world can still survive in modern times, due to the conservation of large wild habitats through networks of protected areas.

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