Hoaxes & Rumors

Is a Blue Whale’s Tongue Heavier Than an Elephant?

Is a Blue Whale’s Tongue Heavier Than an Elephant?

A fact circulating around the internet claims that a blue whale’s tongue weighs more than an elephant. Is this true or false?

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It’s partially true.

A blue whale’s tongue can approach the weight of an adult female elephant. A National Geographic entry on blue whales makes the following statement:

Blue whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth. These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 100 feet (30 meters) long and upwards of 200 tons (181 metric tons). Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. Their hearts, as much as an automobile.

Let’s compare the weight of an elephant with that of a blue whale’s tongue.

How much does an elephant weigh?

According to the San Diego Zoo, under the “Quick Facts” section, male elephants are said to weigh up to 15,000 pounds and females are said to weigh up to 8,000 pounds. Baby elephants weigh 198 to 264 pounds at birth.

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How much does a Blue Whale tongue weigh?

According to author Spencer Wilkie Tinker in the 1988 book Whales of the World (1988), “The tongue of a large blue whale has been estimated to approach 3,629 kg. (8,000 pounds) in weight and is large out of all proportion to its use.” Wikipedia cites a 1915 article in its claim that the blue whale’s tongue can weigh 3.0 short tons, or about 6000 pounds.

BBC Blue Planet Video

A 2009 BBC Blue Planet video features facts about the blue whale. At the 27 second mark in the video, the narrator repeats the claim saying, “Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant…”

Bottom Line

This fact seems to be partially true. Based on the sources cited above, it appears that a blue whale’s tongue of 6,000-8,000 pounds can weigh around the same as an adult female elephant, but is unlikely to be weigh more than an adult male elephant.

Updated March 11, 2015
Originally published June 2013

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