The fastest I’ve ever ran in my entire life was about 20 miles per hour when I was getting chased by my mum, for not taking the chicken out of the freezer. Spoiler alert, till this day the chicken is always defrosted by the time my mum gets home from work.
Did to know the classic Ferrari Enzo moves around 8.1 meters per second and can go from 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds. Erm what’s this got to do with fast animals. Well a Cheetah is a lot faster as it can hit speeds of 10 meters per second and can reach speeds of 40 mph in three seconds! The cheetah can hit top speeds of 70mph which is quite impressive as my dad’s old car (which unfortunately broke down when we were trying to drive up the hill.) couldn’t event hit 70mph. The Cheetah is a sprinter, not a long-distance runner and it can only keep the high speeds in short bursts as it requires a lot of energy. It can take a cheetah up to 30 minutes for a cheetah to recover from a sprint.
So, what makes a cheetah the fastest land animal?
The cheetah is the slenderest of all big cats as it has a light body (80-140 lbs), they have a small head (like my brother) and long legs, which allow it to be more aerodynamic. The Cheetah a flexible spine which can easily adjust and extend while its running at 70mph. since the spine is flexible it allows the cheetah to adjust to the terrain it is running on so the scapula and hip can move at extreme angles that the front and back legs actually overlap! The cat’s spine is kind of like a spring as it stretches and recoils as the cheetah is running allowing each stride to move the cat 25 feet at once!
One animal that people get mixed up with the Cheetah is the Leopard. Although they look very similar they are two very different cats. The cheetah as we now know is very light weight (males weigh around 54kg and females weigh around 43kg). Whereas, Jaguars are quite a lot heavier compared to cheetahs (males weigh around 70Kg and females weigh around 40kg). As cheetahs are the fastest land mammal they must sacrifice a lot of muscle to keep that light weight and to make them more streamline. Leopards, on the other hand, are much more stocky and strong as they have a lot more muscle mass which also makes them weigh a lot more that the cheetah. When searching for prey the cheetah can trip up its prey by leaping towards it because of its flexible spine, however, the leopard needs to get a lot closer to stalk its prey for a while before it can leap on it. The cheetah has a flat shaped tail that it can use to steer itself when its running at those high speeds. The tail of the leopard is much more tubular shaped which allow it to keep a good balance when lifting its prey or when they’re climbing trees.