World’s Strongest Animal

If you thought the world’s fastest animal was a cheetah, you’d be mistaken. If you thought the strongest animal was the elephant, you’d also be wrong. A tiny critter called a copepod is the best jumper and the fastest, strongest multicellular animal known to man. According to an article on Discovery News, the copepod (which measures about 1 millimeter in length) can demonstrate some amazing feats when fleeing its predators.

With an acceleration speed of 500 body-lengths per second, the copepod could make Usain Bolt green with envy as the crustacean zooms away from its underwater attackers. The article reports that, “the tiny leg muscles used to execute such leaps are the most forceful in the world relative to their size.”

The article references a Danish study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, in which lead researcher Thomas Kiørboe studied the two different propulsion systems found on the copepod. Kiørboe and his team threatened the copepods by tapping their aquarium, and then photographed their movements to study the different muscular systems at work. Discovery News reports that, “the researchers think this astounding power is made possible by an optimal design of the swimming legs, copepod musculature and overall body shape.”

The copepod’s efficiency and ability to avoid becoming dinner could be the keys to its abundance — it outnumbers any other multicellular animal on the planet, Kiørboe told Discovery News.

Other scientists are studying the copepod’s jumping mechanisms in hope of replicating the skills in robots for possible space exploration, according to the article, though these researchers would be hard-pressed to duplicate the speed and force of such a streamlined creature. Science Daily reports that the copepod is anywhere from 10 to 30 times more powerful than any animal or machine currently in existence.

The trick behind the speed and strength is in those two separate and differently geared “propulsion mechanisms,” according to Kiørboe and Science Daily. Copepods have vibrating limbs in addition to swimming or jumping legs. These legs are only used occasionally and, thus, avoid fatigue. Kiørboe and his team from the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark intend to study the propulsion mechanisms and their nerve transmissions to fully understand the most powerful creature alive.

Photo credit: ibsut/Flickr

Related Links:
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The month in animal photos
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By Katy Rank Lev


Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago

wow! I've never heard of the copepod before!

Nicolo Gentile
Nicolo Gentile6 years ago

Look at the little guy go!

Mari Enchanted
Mari 's6 years ago


beverly gannon
beverly gannon7 years ago


Toni C.
Toni C7 years ago

That was really interesting... who'd a thunk it??

Mr Martin H.
.7 years ago

before this i thought the strongest bug was guv arnold shortzleggy.

Ann Eastman
Ann Eastman7 years ago

Jonathan Y: Thank you for the extra information.

Mirna Judith O.
Mirna Judith O7 years ago

wao!! It's amazing!

Antoinette Reyes
Antoinette R7 years ago


Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y7 years ago

Further, as the most numerous component of plankton, Copepods comprise the largest biomass on earth. They support and feed baleen whales, the largest animals ever, and the entire marine ecosystem from krill to small fish to sharks.