- Newborn blue whales weigh 1360 kg – practically the weight of a small car. Thanks to mom’s extremely fatty milk, they put on 90 kg every day.
- Meanwhile, bat pups may be tiny in comparison, but each one makes up a fourth of their mom’s bodyweight.
- Human babies – at 1/22 of their mother’s size – may seem pretty small in comparison. But we’re actually pretty hefty, especially when you look at newborn kangaroos as small as a jellybean.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Imagine giving birth to a 1360 kg baby.
That’s practically the weight of a small car. But it’s the typical size of a newborn blue whale. The biggest baby in the animal kingdom.
When they nurse, calves put on 90 kg. Every. Single. Day. Thanks to their mom’s extremely rich milk, which contains over 10 times more fat than cow milk. So calves can grow to the size of a Boeing 757 by adulthood.
Sounds like a pretty cushy start to life, especially when compared to other hefty newborns.
On dry land, elephants win the biggest baby award, though “winning,” is a relative term. They give birth to a 105 kg calf, which first has to gestate in the mom’s womb for nearly two years!
More than twice as long as a human pregnancy!
Close behind elephants are giraffes. They drop a 75 kg calf on average. Literally. Mom gives birth standing up, so the baby falls almost 2 meters to the hard ground.
But it turns out, that tumble is pretty important. The impact breaks open the amniotic sac, allowing them to take their first breath of air. Next in line is the white rhino. Although not quite as long a pregnancy as an elephant babies still gestate for 15-16 months. Once they’re finally born, calves weigh 40-64 kg – roughly the size of an adult St Bernard.
But here’s the thing: If you’re about to give birth, you’re not actually worried about your kid’s size. You’re worried about their size compared to you. And shingleback lizards have it bad.
Really bad. Unlike most reptiles, they give birth to live young. Usually, twins that total a third of their body weight. That’s like a human giving birth to a seven-year-old.
Meanwhile, bats usually have just one baby at a time. But that one pup is huge! A fourth of their mother’s body weight. That’s equivalent to a human infant the size of a 16 kg cocker spaniel.
Meanwhile, horse foals usually are a tenth of their mother’s size. That’s a bowling-ball sized baby in human-terms.
Speaking of humans, our newborns weigh about 3.5kg on average, or 1/22 of mom’s size. That might not sound like much, but we’re actually pretty big. After all, tiger cubs weigh only 1/120th of their mother’s size. And a red kangaroo baby is a minuscule 1/100,000 of mom’s bodyweight!
That’s right. A newborn joey can be as small as a single grain of rice and won’t be ready to venture from the pouch for over a year. But the world’s smallest babies are a story for another time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2019.