It's a "well known" and interesting "fact" that the human body is made up of "mostly water". With percentages from 65% to 90% often being repeated as if they were exact and proven amounts.

Obviously the exact numbers will vary from one individual to the next, and from one measurement method to the next, and from one to the other definition of which water is included in the measurement, etc. And it will even vary within the same individual over time depending on water intake and excretion (in all its forms).

Moving on from humans, water is also going to be a significant component of the body mass of animals as well. And the variations in percentages here is likely to vary even more, when you add different species in to the mix of factors to compare. One obvious example is jellyfish, with an extremely high (compared to humans, at least) percentage of their body mass composed of water.

But which animal is at the lower end of the spectrum, with the smallest percentage of their body mass being made up of water?

In my attempt to research this topic, I was unable to find any documented information that was not behind a pay-wall, such as this article.

For clarity and simplicity, please limit answers to multi-cellular animals, assume a normal healthy adult specimen, averages and estimations are acceptable for measurement comparisons, as avoid answers that include grey areas in defined classifications (e.g. are viruses alive), and answers need not be reduced to a specific individual species if a genus or even family is enough to identify the animal to a layman, etc.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd guess Australian marsupials probably have pretty low water content, but can only find papers on water conservation in the marsupials. $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @bob1 That line of thought was my first intuition as well, but the more I think about it, the more I find that I can't directly correlate "the ability to prevent moisture losses" to "total moisture content". Just because they're exceptionally good at maintaining their hydration level doesn't necessarily translate to a lower overall water content. They might still be the winners, for other reasons, but the retention ability alone isn't convincing enough for me. $\endgroup$
    – Harthag
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ I had that thought too. I suspect all mammalian animals will have similar water content, but its actually a hard question to find answers to because not many people take a dead animal and do the science by properly weighing and reducing it to ash under controlled conditions. $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


enter image description here

A Tardigrade, when exposed to extreme conditions, can suspend their metabolism and reduce water content to 1% of the normal; from 85% to 3%.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, and good information. But I'm not sure that suspended metabolism in an attempt to maybe survive (no guarantees, despite their much higher likelihood of success compared to most other animals) those extreme conditions qualifies as 'normal' or 'healthy' ... $\endgroup$
    – Harthag
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 14:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .