Microbial Record Holders

The biggest of the big! The baddest of the bad! The oldest of the ancients! This is where you'll find all the microbial record holders, microbes that beat all others hands down in a variety of categories. This is our microbial Book of World Records.

Monsters Among the Microbes

The name "microbe" suggests creatures that are so tiny you need a microscope to see them. For most microbes this is true, but there are some gargantuan microbes that we can actually see with the unaided eye. On this page, you’ll read about the biggest of the big in each of the main categories of microbes: viruses, bacteria, protists, fungi and, as an extra added bonus, parasitic worms.

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How Small Can You Get

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As you can tell by their name, microbes are so teensy-weensy you almost always need a microscope to see them (exceptions are described in the Biggest Microbes page). But just how tiny can microbes get?

Well, the smallest of the small are the viruses. They’re so tiny, we need a special kind of microscope called an electron microscope to see even the largest of them.

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Oldest Living Microbes

In the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty went to sleep for 100 years in a castle protected by giant thorns and then was revived by the kiss of a prince. In 2000, scientists told a microbial version of this fairy tale, announcing that they had revived bacteria that had lain in suspended animation for 250 million years, encased in salt crystals deep in the Earth.

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The Deadliest and Scariest

Nature sure has created some tiny monsters when it comes to microbes—bugs that make us throw up, ooze pus, bleed out of our eyes and cough up blood. But which take top honors (or dishonors) for being the most lethal of all?

Read more: The Deadliest and Scariest