What Happens If We Throw an Elephant From a Skyscraper? Life & Size 1

Let’s start this video by throwing a
mouse, a dog, and an elephant from a skyscraper onto something soft. Let’s say, a stack of mattresses. The mouse lands and is stunned for a moment, before it shakes itself off, and walks away pretty annoyed, because that’s a very rude thing to do. The dog breaks all of its bones and dies in an unspectacular way, and the elephant explodes into a red puddle of bones and insides and has no chance to
be annoyed. Why does the mouse survive, but the elephant and dog don’t? The answer is size. Size is the most underappreciated
regulator of living things. Size determines everything about our biology, how we are built, how we
experience the world, how we live and die. It does so because the physical laws are
different for different sized animals. Life spans seven orders of magnitude,
from invisible bacteria to mites, ants, mice, dogs, humans, elephants and, blue
whales. Every size lives in its own unique universe right next to each other,
each with its own rules, upsides, and downsides. We’ll explore these different
worlds in a series of videos. Let’s get back to the initial question: Why did our
mouse survive the fall? Because of how scaling size changes everything; a principle that we’ll meet over and over again. Very small things, for example,
are practically immune to falling from great heights because the smaller you
are the less you care about the effect of gravity.
Imagine a theoretical spherical animal the size of a marble. It has three
features: its length, its surface area, (which is covered in skin) and its volume,
or all the stuff inside it like organs, muscles, hopes and dreams. If we make it
ten times longer, say the size of a basketball, the rest of its features
don’t just grow ten times. Its skin will grow 100 times and it’s inside (so it’s
volume) grows by 1000 times. The volume determines the weight, or more accurately,
mass of the animal. The more mass you have, the higher your kinetic energy
before you hit the ground and the stronger the impact shock. The more
surface area in relation to your volume or mass you have, the more the impact
gets distributed and softened, and also the more air resistance will slow you
down. An elephant is so big that it has extremely little surface area in ratio
to its volume. So a lot of kinetic energy gets distributed over a small space and
the air doesn’t slow it down much at all. That’s why it’s completely destroyed in
an impressive explosion of goo when it hits the ground. The other extreme,
insects, have a huge surface area in relation to their tiny mass so you can
literally throw an ant from an airplane and it will not be seriously harmed. But
while falling is irrelevant in the small world there are other forces for the
harmless for us but extremely dangerous for small beings. Like surface tension
which turns water into a potentially deadly substance for insects. How does it
work? Water has the tendency to stick to itself; its molecules are attracted to
each other through a force called cohesion which creates a tension on its
surface that you can imagine as a sort of invisible skin. For us this skin is so
weak that we don’t even notice it normally. If you get wet about 800 grams
of water or about one percent of your body weight sticks to you. A wet mouse
has about 3 grams of water sticking to it, which is more than 10% of its body
weight. Imagine having eight full water bottle sticking to you when you leave
the shower. But for an insect the force of water surface tension is so strong
that getting wet is a question of life and death.
If we were to shrink you to the size of an ant and you touch water it would be
like you were reaching into glue. It would quickly engulf you, its surface
tension too hard for you to break and you’d drown. So insects evolved to be water
repellent. For one their exoskeleton is covered with a thin layer of wax just
like a car. This makes their surface at least partly water repellent because it
can’t stick to it very well. Many insects are also covered with tiny hairs that
serve as a barrier. They vastly increase their surface area and prevent the
droplets from touching their exoskeleton and make it easier to get rid of
droplets. To make use of surface tension evolution cracked nanotechnology
billions of years before us. Some insects have evolved a surface covered by a
short and extremely dense coat of water repelling hair. Some have more than a
million hairs per square millimeter when the insect dives under water air stays
inside their fur and forms a coat of air. Water can’t enter it because their hairs are
too tiny to break its surface tension. But it gets even better, as the oxygen of
the air bubble runs out, new oxygen diffuses into the bubble from the water
around, it while the carbon dioxide diffuses outwards into the water. And so
the insect carries its own outside lung around and can basically breathe
underwater thanks to surface tension. This is the same principle that enables
pond skaters to walk on water by the way, tiny anti-water hairs. The smaller you get
the weirder the environment becomes. At some point even air becomes more and
more solid. Let’s now zoom down to the smallest insects known, about half the size
of a grain of salt, only 0.15 millimeters long: the Fairy Fly.
They live in a world even weirder than another insects. For them air itself
is like thin jello, a syrup-like mass surrounding them at all times.
Movement through it is not easy. Flying on this level is not like elegant
gliding; they have to kind of grab and hold onto air. So their wings look like
big hairy arms rather than proper insect wings. They literally swim through the
air, like a tiny gross alien through syrup.
Things only become stranger from here on as we explore more diversity of
different sizes. The physical rules are so different for each size that
evolution had to engineer around them over and over as life grew in size in
the last billion years. So why are there no ants the size of horses?
Why are no elephants the size of amoeba? Why? We’ll discuss this in the next part. We have a monthly newsletter now, sign up if you don’t want to miss new videos and
for bonus videos.

You may also like...

100 Responses

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell says:

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here: shop.kurzgesagt.org

  2. Kevs says:

    Thats why I can't drown an ant

  3. BrianJ720 says:

    "What happens if we throw an elephant from a skyscraper"
    its called animal abuse, dont do that…

  4. baby-got-back says:

    So when i put a spider down the toilet when I think its going to kill me,
    Is chillin in the pipes like lol you tried.

  5. Tech Guru413 says:

    There will be a mini earthquake cause of the elephant falling.

  6. chess platinum says:


    It dies

  7. Soham Patwardhan says:

    badass ant

  8. squalo 10 says:

    La differenza la fa densità! No la gravità!!

  9. Tom B says:

    This question comes from an essay written by J.B.S Haldane titled "On being the Right Size". It's freely available online and I highly recommend it.

    In fact this whole video is basically an adaption of that essay, and while I haven't got to the end of the video yet, it will be shameful if Kurzgesagt doesn't acknowledge this.

  10. Liang Hauw says:

    What about turtle

  11. Levon De Pascual says:

    It would be the same as throwing them from 15 feet, terminal velocity.

  12. Alexandru Manea says:

    If you trhow yourself from a skyscraper what's happen???

  13. red tomatoes says:

    What if it lands on say a dozen blacks.🐴

  14. Jexa312 Pets says:

    Elephant:(die because of boom)

    Me: 0-0

  15. Lukas Lenkutis says:

    Bro ngl the comments r mad funny 😂

  16. Praise the sun says:


  17. A Nice Place To Live says:


  18. Nick Dou says:

    So size does matter…

  19. Live Dude says:

    The bigger mass you have, the more gravity you got

  20. PhatGar says:

    Before I watch the video, let me test what I already know.

    More mass means more force. They are affected with the same force of gravity which is 9.81 m/s.

    Rat: F=ma
    Dog: 2F=2ma (because the dog is heavier compared to the rat.)
    Elephant: 3F=3ma (because the elephant is heavier compared to the dog.)

  21. etherraichu says:

    The mouse is stunned. The dog breaks. The elephant splashes.

  22. Tsandere says:

    What would happen if we threw elephant from skyscaper


  23. Stephen Price says:

    This video was common sense

  24. MyBlessU says:

    Poor elephant 🙁

  25. Jean Agustin says:

    Can you throw it in real life

  26. Nik Veeram says:

    As Kurzgesagt says,

    Size matters

  27. josh louis Nathaniel says:

    kurgezact : let's throw a dog off a skyscraper
    John Wick would like to know ypur location

  28. JoeyTWB says:


    YouTube Recommendations: wHaT iF wE thrEw aN elePhANt oFf of a SKyScraPeR?!

  29. TheWeeaboo says:

    Okey. So a bigger mattras saves the elephant and a smaller mattras kills the mouse?

  30. MR K99 says:

    So now i cant feel bad to the ant that i throat away from up of the building

  31. Sarehaand Venom says:

    So size does matter!

  32. Daniel Todd Jr. says:

    "The dog breaks some bones and dies"

  33. Rehan Arif says:

    What a weird question

  34. Panama 001 says:

    Why not a cat instead of a dog, dislike.

  35. SHAKIR SHARAF says:

    Marvelous just marvelous

  36. Will Brennan says:


    Size matters?

  37. Ray Lennon says:

    "And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like … ow … ound … round … ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground!

    I wonder if it will be friends with me?

    And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.

    -Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

  38. Jake Brady says:

    All the dislikes are the elephants friends and family. XD XD XD

    Nice video btw. 👍🏻

  39. Bruh says:

    How the fuck I can throw elephant from the fucking skyscraper?

  40. Matthew C. says:

    Size matter

  41. William Smallwood says:

    I feel like cats should have been added in the beginning.

    Oh Wait…..

  42. shannon taylor says:

    poor doggo and leopard

  43. Killer Kirby says:

    I guess you could say 😏 size matters 😎 yeah

  44. Mr Woozer says:


  45. Haameem Rathore says:

    sees the video title
    Me – There's only one way to find out

  46. Debanjan Mukhopadhyay says:

    One man tried to reiterate the expirement and that man is none other than Thanos if you know what I mean

  47. Kenny Brown says:

    That's not his it works lmao

  48. bbyspace says:

    they die to fall damage (500m)

  49. bearbot tv says:

    just wear dimonds boots with father faling

  50. To Morrow says:

    How do you get the elephant in the elevator…

  51. Davidson Linhares says:

    Top demais.

  52. joonpai says:

    I'd rather you didn't throw me off a skyscraper

  53. XNinja2009YT - daily videos says:

    I like the end card music

  54. Kayla Timar says:

    Lets throw a mouse , a dog and a elephants off a buliding

    Me: why wtf .. Easy there hannibal lector

  55. Squishy says:

    I feel better about the many insects I have thrown out of moving automobiles.

  56. that1_artist5 says:

    You just had to throw a dog off the skyscraper 🙂

  57. Poison Ivy says:

    Nobody at all:
    Absolutely nobody:
    Not a single soul:
    Not even Jesus:
    Kurzgesagt: wHAt hAppeNs iF we Throw an ElEphAnt oFf a SkYsCrAper?

  58. Amed Aguirre says:

    0:39 I think the answer was weight .

  59. Silent beast says:

    To graphic and bloody like if u agree an also report

  60. Ronald John Cabreros says:

    "Mouse dont take fall damage"

    Mickey mouse hacker comfirmed

  61. ---------- says:

    The question no one ever asked!

  62. Imran Qubbaj says:

    No mice,dogs or elephants were injured in the making of this video

  63. *HATE COMMENT* says:

    The real question is, how do we get an elephant up to the skyscraper

  64. Madraf Tintagel says:

    3:54 – Erreur de traduction des sous-titres en français. Les insectes n'ont pas développé des surfaces imperméables, mais des surfaces hydrofuges qui leur évite donc de rester collés à l'eau.

  65. unidentified says:

    But Steel is heavier than Feathers.

  66. Fake Sulfate says:

    If theres one thing I learnt from this video, its that size matters

  67. Your Player Cat says:

    Lol i always wondered what Will happen if i throw a ant from a sky scraper k So now im 100 percent sure that it Will survive

  68. Mike Kirby says:

    We are not evolved but created by GOD!!!!!!!!!

  69. Wozzie says:

    Simple… Splat

  70. natureboyain24 says:

    So, the point of video: Lose weight or you will die if you jump off a skyscraper.

  71. TDaito_ _ says:

    1:03 Ghast??…

  72. Daru says:

    It will evolve into dumbo

  73. Aakarsh Naidu Girrem says:

    Why the fuck would anyone do that??

  74. will2see says:

    No no no no no! The physical laws are not different for different sized animals, you dumb fucks!

  75. Daimon74 says:

    "…And its volume, or all the stuff inside it like organs, muscles, hopes and dreams…"
    hopes and dreams

  76. Vikbear23 says:

    Press F for the dog and elephant

  77. CANALI Rodriguez says:

    It should be that dumb elephant calf from that video on youtube called elephant calf rejected by herd… that lil baster gets eaten by hyenas….

  78. leo c says:

    That’s bad ass, you can’t look at all this and say there’s no inelegant design, what more proof do people need to know the existence of god, and I mean the real one not that satanic bullshit

  79. La Piña Kawaii says:

    The elephant die :v

  80. Clown Central says:

    I was okay with an elephant but when I heard dog I was like wtf

  81. Shubham kumar mehoriya says:

    PETA Wants to know your location..

  82. Helen Martens says:

    Kurzgesagt: What happens if you throw an elephant off a skyscraper?

  83. GENERALSEAL says:

    Small fall damage off

    Big fall damage on

  84. Nining Sukardi says:

    What happened if you throw cat from skyscraper

  85. Maddox Neely says:

    you are the most evil person for throwig a dog of a skyscraper and killing it

  86. Th1460 TOP says:

    Kurzgesagt: humans are 165 cm tall
    Me with 145cm: am i joke to you?

  87. Th1460 TOP says:

    I won't die, i have slow falling 255 for 02829272926283538263636 seconds

  88. buriedxinblack says:

    I'd pay to see that

  89. Caleb Nazario says:

    What would happen if we threw an elephant off a skyscraper? It would fall. Duh.

  90. Oddball Skull says:

    Who asked this question? Lol

  91. David Rodriguez Reyes says:

    El tamaño y el peso no importan, es la aerodinámica, esto es como tirar un lápiz a la misma altura y a la misma vez que un perro, caerán igual, con la única diferencia que el lápiz no se partirá, el perro sí, aparte de la posibilidad de morir.
    Vídeo pa na

  92. סשה דוד says:

    Based on cinetic energy

  93. Riffet says:

    N O T T H E D O G G O

  94. Kingpin Duck says:

    Bold of you to think that we would throw animals off a skyscraper.

  95. Tome Petrovic says:

    Lesson learned: "Size matters"!!! 😂

  96. Rick Sanchez says:

    Size does matter

  97. Jam D. says:

    It would probably die

  98. شمعة says:

    "evolution cracked the nanotechnology billions of years before us"
    that's dumb. you can't crack science by chance without an aware being. biology did never eliminate God from existence. It is only proving his existence over and over.

    BTW, Discovering that something could have happened by chance doesn't mean it DID happen by chance.

  99. Everything In The World says:

    It's all about "size"

  100. Muhammed Gültekin says:

    Evrim mi?! Allah öyle yaratmış

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *