The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived. One urban legend says that its heart is as big as a Volkswagen Beetle! For the first time, scientists have tested this claim. Is it true?
No. A Volkswagen Beetle measures about 14 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 5 feet tall. It weighs about 3,000 pounds. A blue whale’s heart is about 5 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet tall. It weighs about 400 pounds.
One researcher said the blue whale heart was actually the size of a small golf cart—but that’s not really true, either. It looks like most golf carts weigh at least 500-600 pounds.
The 400-pound heart of a 40,000-pound animal is still pretty big! (Even though the heart is only about 1% of the whale’s body weight, it’s still the biggest on the planet.) How big is the heart of the world’s largest terrestrial (land-loving) creature? How big is your own heart? How does it compare to the size of a blue whale’s heart?
African elephants are the largest terrestrial creatures on Earth. Their round-shaped hearts weigh about 30 pounds.
A blue whale’s heart weighs about 14 times as much as an elephant’s heart.
The heart makes up about 5% of an elephant’s weight.
A human heart weighs about 10 ounces. There are 16 ounces in a pound. Do the math to compare its size to a whale heart—don’t worry, it isn’t hard:
16 ounces in a pound, so 400 pounds is 6400 ounces. (400*16)
Now divide that by 10, the weight of a human heart. (6400/10)
A blue whale’s heart weighs about 640 times as much as a human heart.
The biologist in the video said it took 4 people to remove the heart from the whale’s chest cavity. Your own heart is much more delicate: It makes up less than half a percent of your body weight. If you’re a kid, your heart is about the size of your fist. If you’re an adult, your heart is about the size of two fists. Luckily, we have a nice, strong rib cage protecting this vital organ.