10 of the largest living things on the planet

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Largest living things - flower
credit: kkaplin

From the world's largest bird to the biggest fungus and flower, these colossuses of their classes take the prize for size.

What a wonderful world we live in, populated with such an abundance of living things great and small. And while the most minute of the bunch go unseen by the naked eye, the big guys grab our attention. But Mother Nature is nothing if not sly; the biggest organism on the planet (see page 10) went undetected until just the end of the 20th century. (And we think we're so smart!) The largest living members of each particular species are a fascinating crowd, allow us to introduce you to some of the superstars. First up, the planet's brawniest blossom.

Corpse flower

Shakespeare may have noted that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but he had presumably never met a corpse flower. Also known as Rafflesia arnoldii, the poetically named posy boasts the largest bloom in the world, measuring in at 3-feet wide with blossoms that weigh 15 pounds. And just to prove that nature has a sense of humor, it reeks not of the perfumed attar of rose or the heady scent of jasmine ... but of rotting flesh. Sweet! But so it does to attract the insects that pollinate the plant; so all is just as it should be.

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