The Fastest Animals in the World (Video)
Cheetahs may be best known as being among the fastest animals on land. But plenty of other speedy species exist too.
Antelopes such as the springbok and blue wildebeest are known as top sprinters, while some swimmers such as sailfish can reach speeds faster than you’d be allowed on freeways!
Cheetahs are known to reach speeds of 75 miles per hour in short bursts, surpassing human record holder Usain Bolt in 100-meter dashes by nearly three seconds; however, this top speed only lasts for approximately 20 seconds before they need time to recuperate and rest again.
Cheetahs have evolved to adapt to their lightning speed with lean bodies, long thin legs, a flexible spine and a streamlined body shape which reduces air resistance. Their feet have special pads which serve as cleats for improved traction while their tails provide stability at high speeds. Furthermore, these animals boast small heads with distinct black tear tracks on them to hide from potential prey during daylight hours.
Cheetahs reach incredible speeds because they take only a few strides per second, covering 22 feet (6.7 meters). This is much faster than dogs which tend to take the same number of steps no matter their speed of running. Researchers have also noted that when speeding up, cheetahs increase their stride count per second in order to reach even higher velocities.
Cheetahs can only sustain their speed for limited amounts of time, forcing them to hunt in bursts. Surprisingly shy hunters, cheetahs prefer stalking their prey in shadow rather than ambushing it head on from an open field. Wait for a herd of animals to cross their path before striking from either side or behind from distances of up to 50 meters and catch prey from as far as 165 feet (50 meters). A fast running cheetah can catch and kill its prey in just 30 seconds – killing both zebra or buffalo immediately!
Pronghorn are one of North America’s most impressive animals. These big game mammals can run at 70 miles an hour–an incredible feat for any mammal, let alone one as small as the pronghorn. Their speed helps them avoid predators while also aiding their survival and reproduction; vast open spaces such as ranches, farms and homes threaten this delicate balance that the pronghorn rely on for food and shelter.
Pronghorn can cover 20 feet in a single stride. Their pointed, cushioned hooves help absorb shock at high speeds while their cushioned long toes enable them to leap over obstacles like fences while running with their mouths open so as to maximize oxygen intake at high speeds.
Pronghorn aren’t the fastest hoofed animal on earth despite their incredible speed; instead, giraffes, which are larger than pronghorn, can run more than 50 miles an hour while Usain Bolt (the fastest human), has been recorded running 44 miles an hour.
As for what drives the pronghorn’s incredible speed, a comparative physiologist from Northern Arizona University suggests it might have evolved as an adaptation to outrun now-extinct American cheetahs that once hunted them. Nowadays they still need fast running speeds in order to survive predators; however, other means exist as well.
Pronghorn are well known for their incredible sprinting prowess, but their best known feature may be their epic land migrations in America. Each winter they migrate between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park and back again – covering approximately 150 miles each way! Unfortunately, due to roads, cities, and energy development these critical routes are being fragmented.
Sailfish, with their remarkable speed and graceful form, have long captured the fascination of researchers and enthusiasts alike. These swift predators of the deep can accelerate quickly while covering long distances to seek out pelagic forage fish, squid, crustaceans, etc. as food.
Sailfish belong to the billfish family of fishes that includes swordfish and marlin. These fast swimmers are distinguished by their impressive sail-like dorsal fin that can extend and retract like the sail of a ship to help with maneuverability. Their torpedo-shaped bodies usually feature dark spots along their surface coloration, although some individuals may even exhibit silvery white hues.
These impressive marine athletes can move with ease through the water thanks to their long, slender bodies and sleek outlines. Covered in minute scales that overlap for reduced drag while swimming and deeper dives with less effort required; their powerful jaws also enable them to strike lightning-fast blows that stun schools of smaller fish to make hunting them easier and more efficient.
As adults, sailfish inhabit both the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans near coastal regions and reefs near coastal regions and reefs, feeding on smaller fish species, squid, crustaceans, and other crustaceans. Sailfish are popular targets among sport fishermen as they can reach over 10 feet long and 200 pounds!
Sailfish reproduce through external fertilization, with both adult males and females releasing sperm cells into the water column to fertilize eggs that hatch within 36 hours after being fertilized; young sailfish reach up to five feet in their first year despite starting out as microscopic larvae!
The cheetah may get all of the credit for its speed, but it isn’t alone in its ability to move quickly. Many other land, water and air mammals possess impressive speed capabilities as well. Some can fly through the air while others run on land or swim in ocean waters – the list goes on!
Some of the fastest animals can dive through the sea to catch prey. One such animal is the black marlin, which can swim at up to 80 mph and is found throughout tropical oceans – it’s often targeted as prey for sports fishers.
Other land animals capable of rapid speed include the hare, springbok and Thompson’s gazelle – three herbivores capable of matching or even outrunning cheetah speeds.
However, when measured according to body length covered per second, ostriches reign supreme as the fastest land animal. Ostriches can reach 9 feet (2.7 meters). Their long legs enable them to cover distance in one stride – providing protection from predators such as lions and hyenas.
Birds can also be swift. Two species, the common swift and white-throated needletail, can outrun even cheetahs: one can travel at up to 69 mph while the other 105. These birds can be found across Europe, North Africa and Asia and both species use flight to pursue insects or small mammals for food; peregrine falcons have the fastest diving speeds at 242 miles per hour (389 kilometers per hour)!
5. Spur-winged Goose
Cheetahs may be considered the champion land runners, but these feathered friends beat them hands down. White-throated needletail swifts have been recorded reaching horizontal speeds of 105 mph without using gravity as an assist. Migrating birds like these breed in Central Asia and Southern Siberia before migrating south for warmer climes such as Australia, New Guinea or nearby islands to breed.
Although we don’t yet have an answer for which sea creature is the fastest, several candidates could make the cut. One such candidate is Istiophorus platypterus’ incredible speed which stems from body shape and drag coefficient – an expression of size, weight, and water density – making sailfish move through water faster due to larger bodies that generate greater force with each stroke and facilitate faster travel through it.
Yellowfin tuna, an ocean fish species capable of reaching speeds as fast as 67 mph (108 kmph), is another contender. Their remarkable speed results from using their fins to generate thrust while having lower drag coefficient than smaller fish such as pike or trout. Yellowfin tunas can be found throughout Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
A carnivorous African animal known as a hyena is also renowned for their speed. Reaching speeds up to 57 miles per hour, its long legs enable it to cover ground quickly and effortlessly.
No comprehensive list of fast animals would be complete without including some flying mammals, most notably the Brazilian free-tailed bat which holds the world record for being the fastest mammal (not just on land) when it comes to flight at 171 body lengths per second, beating its predecessor the housefly by nearly 5mph!