The List: 17 Things Animals Do Better Than Humans

The List: 17 Things Animals Do Better Than Humans

Gloat all you want about humans being at the “top of the food chain” — when things hit the fan

You’d be tired, too, if you did it 10 times a day. Of course, you don’t.

Gloat all you want about humans being at the “top of the food chain” — when things hit the fan and you’re left in the wilderness without your barbecue tongs and packaged food, you might not feel so cocky. Yes, we harnessed fire. Tools. Espresso. Bicycles. Beer. Hip hop. These things are swell and all, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty of straight-up surviving, you’ll notice that humans come up a little short compared to the rest of the animal population.

1. Lifting things
Humans: Can clean and jerk 1.7 times their bodyweight
Rhinoceros Beetles: Can lift 285 times their bodyweight
Winner: Rhinoceros Beetles

2. Flying
Humans: Have to pay a minimum of approximately $100 US to fly, plus more for checked bags
Birds: Can fly for free, do not check bags. Do not take bags.
Winner: Birds

3. Digesting food
Humans: Have to cook meat
All other carnivorous animals: Do not have to cook their meat
Winner: All other carnivorous animals

4. Being hungry
Humans: Can go without food for up to 73 days
Crocodiles: Can go without food for up to two years
Winner: Crocodiles

5. Going without water
Humans: Can go up to five days without drinking water
Camels: Can go six to seven months without drinking water
Winner: Camels

6. Living without head
Humans: Cannot live without head
Cockroaches: Can live for weeks without head
Winner: Cockroaches

7. Sex (quantity; obviously quality is totally subjective)
Humans: Average human has sex 100-130 times per year
Bonobos: Have sex up to 10 times per day
Winner: Bonobos

8. Swimming
Humans: Can swim 5.34 mph
Cosmopolitan Sailfish: Can swim 68 mph
Winner: Cosmopolitan sailfish

9. Staying warm
Emperor Penguins: Survive temperatures of -76° F
Humans: Complain, put on down jackets, and light campfires at 45-50° F
Winner: Penguins

10. Staying cool
Pompeii Worm: Can tolerate temps of 176° F
Humans: Turn air conditioners on between 85° F and 100° F
Winner: Pompeii Worm

11. Longevity
Madagascar Radiated Tortoise: Can live to at least 188 years
Humans: Can live to 122 years
Winner: Madagascar Radiated Tortoise

12. Legs
Humans: 2 legs
Millipede: 750 legs
Winner: Millipede

13. Running
Humans: Can run 27.79 mph
Cheetahs: Can run 70 mph
Winner: Cheetahs

14. Breathing underwater
Humans: Cannot breathe underwater
Fish: Can breathe underwater
Winner: Fish

15. Regenerating limbs
Humans: Cannot regenerate limbs
Starfish: Can regenerate limbs
Winner: Starfish

16. Home construction
Humans: Hire construction companies or pitch tents
Spiders: Spin web using materials from own body
Winner: Spiders

17. Digestion
Humans: One stomach
Cows: Four stomachs
Winner: Cows

Bonobos photo by Shutterstock

Brendan Leonard is a contributing editor to Adventure Journal. Follow him at his blog, Semi-Rad.
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Showing 13 comments
  • Cam

    But we have thumbs

  • Kim Kircher

    Humans average sex 100-130 times a year? Really? Sheesh.

  • Justin Roth

    Yeah, but can animal make GUNS and MOUNTAIN DEW and JACKED UP PICKUP TRUCKS? Didn’t think so. Animal kingdom FAIL.

    • sarah

      Yeah, but, they dont get arrested if they beat yo ass

  • Tyler

    18. Cognition
    Humans: can make ridiculous lists about their own inferiority complex and then read said lists whilst avoiding the work they should really be doing.
    Animal Kingdom: Pretty happy with self. Searching for next meal and/or napping.
    Winner: …

  • sam

    thanks this

  • Alisha

    I love this. Haha, and humans think they’re superior and can do everything better than other animals!! 😀

  • e.

    Quite stupid and unimportant comparisons…besides I have heard that some people like the taste of rotten fish and cheetahs , unlike us, are pretty bad when it comes to endurance..there are many stories of humans who survived in jungles after plane crash ..

  • e.

    And following your logic, all other animals are inferior to fish because only fish have gills..oh and fish are not literally breathing underwater(they don’t have lungs), they filtrate oxygen from water and we can produce our own heat while fish and reptiles cannot

  • Dog

    How come im not this list? bark bark bark im better at barking

  • Jeff Frias


  • Jeff Frias


  • hello there

    Body parts and mundane acts don’t make animals better than anything else. If you can screw more than a human, have wings and so forth, whatever.

    I enjoy that lovely thing called metacognition, something your “winners” don’t have.

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