The fastest animals on Earth

What’s the fastest animal on Earth? Depends on how you specify speed. By easy miles per hour, traditional megafauna like cheetahs control the leaderboard. However if we determine speed by the body lengths an animal takes a trip per second, those fast felines have some competitors. This race of percentages enables competitors from all kingdoms to choose gold. Here’s how a cross-section of animals accomplishes leading speeds.

1. Typical squid

Jet propulsion
This cephalopod shoots through the ocean like a tentacled jet. It draws water into a chamber in its 8-inch-long cone-shaped body, then contracts its muscles to press the liquid through a narrow ­funnel-​shaped organ near its head. The circulation blasts in one instructions, releasing the adult squid’s gelatinous kind the opposite method at 10 body lengths per second.

2. Cheetah

Speeding spinal columns
Famous for large giddyup, these spotted felines’ versatile spinal columns offer their limbs a large range of movement. The stretch optimizes stride and enables velocity from absolutely no to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds. Hind legs thick with fast-twitch ­fibers—​
an effective kind of ­muscle—​­make it possible for 70 miles per hour bursts. However consider body size, and they fall back: 23 lengths per second.


Dive for love
Hummingbirds pump their wings in a figure 8 so rapidly that human beings see just a blur. To impress the girls, 4-inch-long male Anna’s hummingbirds speed up faster than any other vertebrate relative to body size—consisting of fighter pilots. Suitors fly at 385 body lengths per 2nd throughout their popular courtship dive, all powered by outsize pecs.


Mighty legs
Where there is water, there are ­copepods serenely drifting. In times of crisis, the ­torpedo-​­shaped 1-millimeter shellfishes can speed up to 500 body lengths per second. 2 sort of limbs—some vibrating oars for swimming and some more powerful legs for leaping—permit the animal to blast over 20 inches, best for getting away a fish’s open jaws.

This short article was initially released in the Spring 2019 Transport concern of Popular Science.

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