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More of a theoretical idea but the implications can help with a lot of worlds and ideas.

A no is as welcome as a yes. The most detailed answer is the best as usual.

In many stories set in other worlds or in the future...etc we get super duper massive powerful animals with hide/armor/skin...etc that resists bullets and I'm starting to doubt it.

Evolution is all about fitting the environment and survival and our weapons are all about destroying a specific target general weapon that works in most situations, like automatic rifles.

So. What on earth would naturally develop to resist tank shells let alone missiles and bombs?

What flying creature can match our slowest fighter jets?

This is basically about asking is it possible for any animal, like moving things, to be actually resistant to weapons above mini-guns?

Above mini guns is not like a category I know. But I think you all can get an idea about what I mean. Stuff like missiles and tank guns and artillery...etc

Stories also confuse size with power. Yes Dreadnoughtus existed but can it dodge guided missiles or survive an artillery barrage?

Speed does not matter. I know the movies love showing a lot of bullet dodging but even if an animal can dodge bullet you simply shot more.

Don't get me started on giant monsters and flying monster that are flying by the power of the plot.

So. Are fictional alien creates hostile to sir Newton's laws and a bit of chemistry or can they be almost super destructive predators like we see in the movies?

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    $\begingroup$ The armor of some animals can resist more than mini-guns. After all, that's why elephant guns were invented. (Note that in the last quarter century the trend was toward reducing the power of military automatic rifles; when I was young, Romania used a variant of the AK-47, firing 7.62 mm, 8 grams, 2 kJ bullets; not we use (of course) NATO ammunition, firing 5.56 mm, 4 grams, 1.7 kJ bullets. Hopefully we won't be attacked by elephants or rhinos.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 8 '20 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ Aquatic animals (or animals in a low-gravity, high oxygen environments) can be extremely big. It’s very hard to penetrate several decimeters of fat, muscle, chitin or bone. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Nov 8 '20 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP I would have thought one of these would be pretty effective against an elephant: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minigun $\endgroup$ Nov 8 '20 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ @user3153372: The M134 Minigun is neither a "mini-gun" nor a "mini gun". It's a high power high rate of fire electrically driven machine gun. (Note two words instead of one and no capitalization. And no link, to disambiguate poorly known terms.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 8 '20 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ Every answer assumes some gigantic heavily armored creature. Must it be so? It's much more difficult to defend against gigantic swarms of insect-sized creatures, and your weapons will kill only an insignificant percentage of the swarm. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Nov 8 '20 at 20:30

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NO, because "current military weapons" include a 100Megaton Tsar Bomba.

A 100m-thick steel plate could not resist that.

Appropriate weapon scaling is what it's about.

For ANY given defense, you can just handwave an offensive military weapon that exceeds that defense in offensive power, because it is MUCH easier to scale up offense than defense. It's just usually not very cost-effective or convenient or safe, which is the only reason why every store guard is not toting a Tsar Bomba for security. Offensive weaponry scales to be just strong enough to usually defeat the opponent it is designed for.

As for making Godzilla capable of ignoring smallarms fire. Why not? Have you ever tried hunting an Elephant with a BB gun? Or a .22? Or even a 38 special? NO, you need something with a bit more heft to it. So why would you be surprised when Godzilla (at 5000 times the mass of an Elephant) is not wounded by a 100mm HE round fired by an M1A1 main battle tank?

And YES, Godzilla could survive an artillery barrage. Artillery is designed to cause a localized, high-explosive detonation that destroys soft targets and some buildings or equipment. Hitting Godzilla (or even a blue whale) with a 155mm HE artillery round will dig only about 1m crater in its skin. Painful, yes, but hardly debilitating.

And if your mythical enemy gets as big as A'Tuin... well, even a Tsar Bomba might not have much effect. But We can more easily develop a super-super tsar bomba, than we can breed a bigger A'Tuin.

Scale is everything. Weapons are designed to match their target's defense and no more, so just use a weapon designed for the enemy you are facing.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't hit blue whale with artillery, that's cruel ಠಠ_____________________ಠಠ $\endgroup$ Nov 8 '20 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ One cannot mention whale and artillery in the same sentence without a customary video ref youtube.com/watch?v=yPuaSY0cMK8 $\endgroup$
    – Daveo
    Nov 8 '20 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ Godzilla couldn't even survive standing up in a science-based question. Or having his heart beat. And I think you're wildly underestimating the catastrophic effects of hitting a blue whale with a 155mm HE round. It's a fragmentation round. It might make a meter-wide crater in dirt, but what those fragments are going to do to flesh is going to be horrifying and very likely. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Nov 9 '20 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ Wait, aren't Sperm Whales, Petunias and Cruise Missiles one and the same thing, as Douglas Adams explained? youtu.be/MsK6aRuSBIc $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Nov 9 '20 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ A 155mm artillery round might only dig a 1m crater, but the concussive force rippling through the flesh would still kill the whale. The same would be true for larger animals. A highly concussive hit near Godzillas vital organs and he'd fall over dead, even without visible damage. A knight in a full plate armor is immune to most sharp or pointy weapons, but a hammer will still turn his insides into goo. $\endgroup$
    – Morfildur
    Nov 9 '20 at 7:37
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Unfortunately not

There are many examples of creatures surviving extreme conditions. Radiation, the vacuum of space, biological attacks and high speed impacts. However, there are many restrictions to biology that we simply can't easily overcome to make an apex predator like the movies.

First off, looking at hendheld miniguns vs bidy armour youtube video's you can see that a single impact can be deflected or taken head on. There will be visible dents and any material that is often used to dampen the impact beforehand will be quite damaged. The creature could take that impact quite well with relatively not thick material.

However, using such hides has massive side effects. The weight has been increased significantly. This hugely reduces mobility, especially in the 'fast' muscles. This means that the creature must take in an absurd amount of food to keep functioning. To offset any weight with extra muscles, you need to increase the food intake further as well as having an even better circulatory system, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. Something that is very harmful on long term. Imagine dressing up an elephant fully in steel plates. Even if the creature doesn't succumb to the weight, it's not advisable to keep it on 24/7. Biologically there are good reasons not to have an exoskeleton after a certain size. Going bigger in size of creatures to add more defence is ludicrous, as at a certain size it simply can't maintain itself. As a quick reference to dinosaurs, the T-rex is about as large as our largest elephants.

If it would survive the above restrictions, it's only survived a single shot. It needs to be able to not get damaged significantly by 33-100 rounds every second. Keep in mind that they fired this thing on mythbusters at a tree, that got cut down and caught fire in less than a minute. So you'll need some heat resistance as well. If it does that, it'll still not be able to withstand the earliest form of anti tank explosives, let alone modern ones.

You can go on about the different calibers and such. The result will always be the same. A creature of size won't be able to withstand a combination of modern weapons and would be biologically infeasible. You could make a creature that is like a moving tortoise, but you'll already feel the problem. It'll be slow and some different equipment will likely be able to subdue it.

Some birds have been reported to go up to 300km/h (186mph). This is when diving. I see no biological way for normal or large birds to get a higher speed from flapping wings, let alone be large enough to pose real threats to planes besides birdstrike.

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Intelligence, which is the source of all those weapons, is itself a product of evolution. So the simplest path to follow is the one that was already travelled,... by our ancestors. A naturally evolved animal could rise across millennia to gain human intelligence or better, and that intelligence could defend those animals against our weapons.

Ignoring that option, natural defenses, already expressed by the animals of our world, could be amplified to be more effective against modern weapons...

  • camouflage. A thick carapace with a very high thermal insulation value could greatly diminish the effectiveness of our infrared targeting.

  • regeneration. Flat worms can completely regenerate from just about any wound including being cut in two. If this ability could be applied to higher life forms, they might not remain intact from a direct missile strike, but the scattered bits that result would eventually return to attack again.

  • hibernation. The animal could just find a good cave and sleep through humanity's brief tenure as the planet's apex predator. After we use our amazing weapons on ourselves, they can return to enjoy the planet without us.

  • hardened DNA. Some species are reported to be more resistant to the mutative effects of radation than we are. Cockroaches, for example, are expected to survive nuclear annihilation. Genetic diversity also allows for some species to survive the biological weapons lurking in the darkest corners of our arsenals.

  • reproduction. Clips only hold so many bullets, so even if you can't make individual animals which can survive large caliber ammunition, you can make enough of them to exhaust the human ammo supply.

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Like the other answers, NO.

There are two main issues and they both relate to the process of evolution. Firstly that process (in advanced species) is sloooooow! It takes tens of thousands of years.

Secondly, if evolution has shown us anything its that there are in general only three basic strategies to minimize 'predation'. Which for the purpose of this discussion is what the killing of any member of a species amounts to regardless of the motive. Those are;

  1. Speed; you avoid/evade predators by being swift/fleet of foot i.e. evolve the ability to accelerate quickly, be highly agile & maintain a high speed just long enough (on average) to avoid interception by a predator; and

  2. Armor; you evolve a set of spines or armor plates (or both) that, again on average provide just enough protection/deterrence to prevent predation by the most likely local predatory species.

  3. Camouflage; you evolve highly effective methods of hiding yourself form local predators. (Works best for smaller species.)

Based on the evolution of life on Earth those are your only viable options as a species subject to predation. And you only get to select one dominant strategy. All species select for camouflage to some degree i.e. most generally select for color patterns that, in general make them harder to detect than not. Only a few make this their dominant mode of protection.

Which is fine as long as your local predator is armed with muscle and fangs. Then along come humans. We have neither and guess what? It doesn't matter.

We have fire hardened/stone tipped/metal spears & arrows. We have snares, traps & nets. You can't outrun us and you cant out armor us. And since we are smart and have excellent senses its even hard to hide from us. So all three become null and void.

And referring to my first point - there is simply no way for any species to evolve quickly enough for it to become immune to modern weapon systems. Biology hasn't even adapted to spears (even if there was a way to do so) before we are already using 21st century tech.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget going somewhere that is difficult or impossible for something to follow you (holes in the ground, flight, climbing higher on a mountain). Confusion and misdirection, like throwing up dust or pretending to be long dead. Or poison. With toxins airborne, in the skin, the ground, in needles or simply fired/spit from a distance. I guess there's even more to fend off predation. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Nov 8 '20 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ None of which really protect you from human weapons and ingenuity. Lots (mostly smaller species) have adopted the play dead, be poisonous/smell bad as niche strategies to avoid depredation. I listed only the 3 main ones above because they are what evolution has shown time and time again work's most often for your larger animals. But NONE of these will protect you from a human with a rock, let alone modern weapons. And if you hide in burrows? We'll you have to come out some time to feed - or else we'll smoke/force you out. Again nothing high tech required. Same thing for climbing or flying. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Nov 9 '20 at 22:41
  • $\begingroup$ Humans are stronk, go go team humans! Live and prosper. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Nov 10 '20 at 22:01
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A really huge animal might shrug of an anti-tank missile, but it's not feasible for animals to get orders of magnitude larger than the current largest animals and remain mobile, at least not on land.

Having strong armor won't help either, I think. It's not physically impossible for them to grow armor as strong as nano-materials or strong alloys, but it'd be an extremely long evolutionary process, while providing limited advantage in nature. More importantly though, that still might not be enough to stop missiles designed to kill tanks.

--

But, maybe it's possible for an animal to have such levels of redundancy that, despite sustaining heavy damage from anti-tank missiles, it could eventually regenerate.

One interesting way to achieve that maybe the 'animal' is actually a swarm of insects. Some insect swarms already behave as a single unit in some regards, but I don't see a biological reason they couldn't have even greater cohesion.

It's probably not the weapon resistance you're looking for, and possibly not even the 'animal' you're looking for, but it's the closest thing that seems feasible to me. Anti-tank missiles would have limited effect against a coordinated strike of a million killer bees.

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  • $\begingroup$ for the swarm, indeed $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Nov 10 '20 at 22:03
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No,

Enough blubber is akin to ballistic gel that can stop bullets, but nothing could survive a nuke. We talk about roaches surviving nukes, but that's really just surviving the radiation. Detonate a nuke on top of a roach and try to point where it is after the explosion.

but...

The best defense is a good offense. If your animal can survive (maybe even produce) something like the Spanish Flu or worse, then they would just need to survive a couple years before the large majority of humans are incapacitated. "Survive" as a species can be different to as individuals. Say they breed like rats—we've been trying to kill rats for millenia, but there are still plenty of rats. We can and do kill them, but there are always more rats.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Enough blubber is akin to ballistic gel that can stop bullets" Tell that to whales. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Nov 11 '20 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Mon I would bet large sums that a typical gun could not take a whale down. But the point is that "no, you can always scale up firepower", and either get a very big gun, or something like an atomic bomb. $\endgroup$
    – Mirror318
    Nov 12 '20 at 0:33
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If animals could, so could we

There is a reason suits of armor are historical relics. Guns became so destructive that armor provides no protection against them. Wearing armor then becomes a negative - it slows you down - with literally no positive offsetting it. So armor was abandoned.

If science understood a way that it would be plausible for an animal to make itself resistant to our weaponry, it would be capable of taking that and translating it into a way to protect people from the same.

This hasn't happened.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, armor was abandoned {looks askance at US Marine, wearing 45 pounds of combat armo... ahem, clothing} $\endgroup$
    – user79911
    Nov 8 '20 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, I glossed over some stuff. Maybe a lot of stuff. That took centuries to develop (armor went out of style because of guns hundreds of years ago) and it still only provides middling protection from small arms fire. Not a barrage of full auto, and certainly nothing like artillery shells. This question asks, in essence, 'do we know of anything that could shrug off being shot by a tank?' and I still maintain the answer is 'if we did, we'd be building them'. $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Nov 8 '20 at 12:10
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There are many ways novelists have tackled this problem. The most key of which is to remember that all encounters - military or otherwise - are limited in some shape or form - unlike the way you have phrased your question.
Even the biggest super weapons will be limited to certain theaters of deployment, or deployed somewhere else. TL;DR in most military encounters one side has superior weapons than the other. Its the strategy and tactics around how they are used that counts.

For example what happens when a human level intelligence Black Panther with the skin of a Rhino (both vaguely plausible) creeps into the Bivouak area where your putative Tank platoon is bedded down for the night?

There is a good workout of this with an equivalent tech "Dragon" vs a 2015 era UK armoured column in the book "The Nightmare Stacks" by Charles Stross, an author who likes to maintain some element of physical plausibility in his works.

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yes, but not in the way you are thinking

Evolution does not go in the direction we think is the best improvement. It meanders around without an aim, and the fittest survive.

The real question would be what the easiest way would be for a body of genetic code to outwit our weapons. It may be to get thick and heavy but practically speaking there's other ways. It would get agile. It would get tenacious.

Take ants. If we declared war on ants today, we'd already have lost. They are mighty tenacious buggers that have already taken over every nation on the planet. And why become invincible to minigun fire when you can simply have such large numbers that you can run the minigun out of bullets. There are known examples of ants sacrificing themselves to wear down a foe so that their sisters may be victorious. We would just be one more in that long chain.

Not even The Tsar Bomba can take out ants. Its too focused. By the time you finish nuking the planet, we are the ones who die.

... and after that, we should be talking about the cockroaches.

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  • $\begingroup$ bacterias are other ones, they control the planet, casting their might... $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Nov 10 '20 at 22:10
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A network of underground tendrils like the roots of a tree

Most modern weapons we have developed, including most rifles, shells, and even nuclear bombs, have difficulty penetrating deeply underground due to the amount of energy necessary to move large volumes of soil and rock. Typical rifle bullets penetrate less than a foot (0.3 m) through soil. In an even more extreme case, despite the greater energy release of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki as compared to that dropped on Hiroshima, the damage was less because of "the blast was confined to the Urakami Valley and a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills".

Imagine a planet constantly bombarded by meteors and with a reliable underground energy source (volcanic activity). In this case, complex life might evolve underground and resemble a robust computer network: highly redundant and highly distributed. With a good underground source of energy, such an organism could burrow through the soil (regolith?) at the speed of a fast growing plant (centimeters per hour) and perform computations and communications over many square kilometers. The network of tendrils would be redundant, distributed, and constantly repairing damage from deeply penetrating meteors.

Such an organism wouldn't evolve on our planet, due to the inefficiency of having such redundant and distributed structure.

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Yes.

Consider the miracle of blood clotting. It is really pretty amazing. Within your body at all places are circulating the raw materials poised to deploy into a clot. If a person gets cut the blood clots fast - seconds. And not just clot - there are infection fighting cells called to the area that clear out invaders. Even wilder: circulating stem cells that in some circumstances can differentiate into the tissues needed for repair.

So too your giant creature. Its blood pressure is high. When it is wounded, internal fluids surge to the area under the pressure difference. It clots super fast and stops bleeding. Circulating stem cells quickly accumulate at the area and differentiate into thick scar. Perhaps events of this sort cause stems cells to fan out and augment armor in all places to withstand the assault - like fair skin will tan under an assault of UV or epithelial covers will thicken under abuse and wear. Or plants generate toxins when under attack by insects.

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YES but...

Try shooting a jellyfish. There's not much inside it to damage, and it would be plausible to duplicate or quintuplicate even that. Then you may be lucky enough to damage one or two copies of a vital organ, but the creature will survive, and probably repair the damage within a few months.

Depth charges may cause it a problem, though they may merely redistribute its organs throughout the jelly mass, rather than damage them.

BUT

apart from survivability, the jellyfish probably doesn't have very much to offer in the way of action, plot or excitement. It mostly drifts and eats, though it can swim very slowly.

Except bioluminescence. It's good at that.

And they (or relatives) did play a more interesting role in The Abyss...

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    $\begingroup$ I have poked Jellyfish with a stick. They stopped being jellyfish and turned shredded goop. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Nov 9 '20 at 0:52
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Controlled evolution

There's a science fiction story where I can't remember either title or author. Humans land on a planet whose inhabitants have controlled evolution. That means each single animal on that planet can control what its next generation looks like. Except there's the "big boss", a 1000 meter high pyramid, which kills anything that would be a danger to him, and controlled evolution can make your offspring invulnerable to human laser guns, but it can't make it strong enough in one jump to beat the "big boss".

The humans carry out experiments, the "big boss" figures out they are a threat, figures out that this threat must come from a very, very powerful home planet, and creates his own successor who can travel through lightyears of space and remove the human threat.

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  • $\begingroup$ That sounds interesting. But with what we know of science I'm not sure how does that even work. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Nov 11 '20 at 4:44

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