Animal kingdom is a vast, huge kingdom comprising of millions of millions of species, from animals as tiny as a beetle to giant white sharks, created with agile limbs to aid the process of survival. Speed means a lot in the animal world and from time to time we might have wondered just how animals manage to survive in a jungle running from predators and hunters. Well, for one, it helps them catch their prey, escaping a hunter or any other predatory animal, as a defensive tool for survival.
No matter where we go in this world, an animal running at a magnificent speed always leaves us with a sense of amazement and wonder. Nature never fails to astonish and bewilder us; did you know that the fastest animal on earth is actually a bird? Well, some animals are designed to be the ultimate speed machines, zooming past at bewildering speeds and the faster an animal is , the more chance it has of surviving, some of them fly through the air, some of them swim through waters and some run on land. Take a look below for our list of 10 of the fastest land animals in the world.
The king of fast runners, the ultimate speed devil, the cheetah is a stunning, graceful mammal known to be the fastest animal on earth. It is designed to running down fast prey, accelerating at an astounding acceleration of 96 km/h in under 3 seconds. It can sprint at such a speed for only 60 seconds, with most of this time spent in the air, rather than on the ground. The cheetah has many adaptions that allow it to sprint across plains; its rangy form supports long limbs and a deep chest cavity together with small waist and an extremely flexible spine.
They are an endangered species, having disappeared from huge area, though still being found sparsely in Africa. Currently it is found in sub Saharan Africa and Iran. It is extremely important that we do something to protect this species. It would be a disgrace if this wonderful stunning mammal disappears from the face of the earth due to man’s incompetence, selfishness and hunting.
2. Free Tailed Bat
Mexican free tailed bat or simply free tailed bats are the second fastest animals, right after the mighty cheetah. They have a characteristic mouse like tail protruding beyond the flight membrane and look relatively plain when compared to other bats, the only difference being their superb aerial abilities, mainly due to their long narrow wings with pointed tips. Their long narrow wings enable them to fly very fast and the long hairs on their toes are excellent for judging flight speed and turbulence.
This species is found in abundance in places like Brazil, Bolivia Argentina and Chile to Oregon, Nebraska and Ohio. Its largest and well known population is found in Mexico and Texans USA. They are aerial insectivores and their diets mostly include moths, beetles, dragon flies, wasps, bees and ants. They have been studied in detail for many years and it is believed that during the second world war , they were secretly investigated by the us air force for their potential to carry tiny bombs into Japan.
Usually mislabeled as an antelope, the Pronghorn is more closely related to goats. An often overlooked mammal, it known to be one of the fastest animals in North America. In fact it is the second fastest animal in the world, after the cheetah. They are the only living members of the family Antilocapridae, and vast herds once roamed North America. They have distinctive forked horns which develop in to a more pronounced prong like shape. Apart from running fast they have other exceptional qualities. They have large eyes projecting away from the skull, giving them a wide view of the field .The pronghorn occurs in western North America, distributed throughout the treeless plains, basins and deserts to the southern prairie provinces of Canada. Pronghorn limbs are specially designed for running, giving them enhanced speed and endurance. They are the fastest known new world mammals, travelling at a speed of 98 km/h when sprinting and can hold a sustained speed of 59 to 65 km/h.
South Africa’s national animal and the only South African gazelle, the springbok is an antelope of the gazelle tribe. They are known for their incredibly fast stiff legged jumps and can reach a speed of 88 km/h. However, unlike the pronghorn, springbok is a poor long distance runner and despite their remarkable speed, they still remain vulnerable to predators like cheetahs and leopards. Very sociable animals, they can often be found in herds along with animals like the wildebeest and ostriches.
They are found in southwestern Africa, mainly in the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Angola and the republic of South Africa. The springbok is a striking animal, reddish brown in color with a pale underside. They can also be recognized by their distinctive ringed curved black horns. They can leap up 4m in the air, which is also known as pronking. Their diet mostly includes grass and other vegetation.
The wildebeest is a type of antelope, native to Africa, which are commonly known to move in large herds. There are two types of wildebeest, the blue and black wildebeest. Both are extremely fast runners and look like a cross between an antelope and a cow. They are herbivores and have very sharp short horns, which they use to protect themselves. The wildebeest is another animal that needs all its endurance and strength to outrun or escape its predator. Usually to escape a predator, they move in large groups or herds making it difficult to hunt them down. If not hunted or killed down, a wildebeest has an average lifespan of 20 years. A fully gown wildebeest weighs about 120-270 kg and 1.27–1.47 at the shoulders. Their most distinctive feature is the color of their coats.
Blackbuck, also known as Kala Hiran, Sasin, Iralai Maan and Krishna Jinka, is only living species in the genus antilope. It is a medium sized antelope, a native to the Indian subcontinent. Blackbucks are very attractive and striking animals, their females, a tan or light brown color and the male have brown to dark brown color. They are known for their extraordinary pair of long spiraling horns which are marked with rings and sweep backwards from the head in a v shape formation.
They are also known for their remarkable speed and are very gentle and playful creatures, more often than not found in herds. These wonderful creatures however are now extinct in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan and only about 50,000 individual remain. The treat to their existence comes mostly from poaching, predation and habitat destruction. Their predators include the now extinct Asiatic cheetah, wolves and jackals.
The fastest of dogs, greyhound is a very old European breed, usually bred for coursing and racing purposes. For centuries greyhounds have been bred for outrunning their prey. The modern greyhound is very similar to the ancient breed of sight hounds that go back to the Egyptians and the Celts. It’s also becoming quite popular as a house pet. They are known to be warm, loyal and wonderful pets. Greyhounds are designed especially for high speed running. Its ability to reach top speed is actually quite amazing and astounding.
It can reach a speed of 46 mph within its first six strides from a standing start. Greyhounds are also excellent distance runners, they can sustain their speed for a distance as a great as 7 miles. So while it’s possible that a cheetah might be able to run fast for short distances, a greyhound can outrun it in any long race.
8. Thomson’s Gazelle
One of the best known gazelles known for its remarkable speed and grace, the Thomson gazelle was named after Joseph Thomson .They can be found in abundance in Africa and are recognized as the most common type of gazelle in East Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and southern Sudan. The ‘tommy’ as it is locally known has a distinct black band running along the side of the body and both the sexes of the Thomson gazelle have long strongly ringed horns .The Thomson gazelle has the ability to outrun its enemy, usually a cheetah in the long run, and they can also make swifter turns. In addition to running at such a high speed, these gazelles also use a bounding leap called stotting, or pronking to avoid their predators. When alarmed they communicate by stotting, a series of high jumps with the head held high and the legs stiff.
9. Brown Hare
To run as fast as a hare is a very common expression and the brown hare perfectly exemplifies that. When chased by predators, the brown hare, also known as the European hare can run up to 75 kilometers per hour. Whilst being chased, they also make abrupt turns without slowing down and can jump up 5 to 7 meters. The brown hare generally resembles a rabbit, the difference being its longer back legs, that allow it to attain such high speed and longer ears with black tips. There are found in great Britain and western Europe, east to through the middle east to central Asia as well as Canada, Australia and south and central America. The brown hare has recently been introduced as a game species in different countries all over the world. Its population has been on the decline since the 1960s caused by numerous agricultural practices.
The horse is one of the fastest animals in the world having the capability to outrun dogs and deer. There are over 350 breeds of horses, all of them with varying athletic abilities. Horses are known for their endurance, coordination and strength. Horse racing has existed for as long as we can remember, men rode horses to go from one place to another, horse racing events were extremely popular but the origins of modern racing go back to the 12th century.
There are usually two types of horse racing activities, the thoroughbred and standardbred horse racing, followed by quarter horse sprinting. Depending upon the type of breed, the thoroughbred horse can run to about 35-43 mph, while the quarter horse, which is counted as the ultimate speed machine, can go up to 55 mph, if they really go at it. Although Thoroughbred horses are using for racing, the quarter horse still remains the fastest horse in the world and the breed that invented racing.