Speed is achieved in the animal kingdom by several different methods: running, swimming and flying. On the land, animals such as the cheetah and brown hare can attain speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. In the oceans, marlins and sailfish can move through the currents at speeds reaching 100 miles per hour. But it is in the air where feathered animals can reach a maximum velocity of nearly 200 miles per hour. Read on to find out about the fastest animals in the World.
The brown hare, also known as the European hare, is one of the largest hare species is a native Europe as well as parts of Asia. The hares are herbivorous, which means their main diet is grasses and herbs. But larger predators such as large birds of prey, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and large cats like to feed on the tasty hare. The brown hare uses its long, powerful legs to reach a high speed of 48 mph, and has large nostrils that give it the endurance to escape.
The Blue Wildebeest, Springbok and Thompson’s gazelle, members of the antelope family, can all run at about 50 mph, the exact speed of its greatest predators, the lion, and hyenas. However, the Blue Wildebeest can cut quicker and run longer than their hunters. Several populations of blue wildebeest take part in a long-distance migration each year, which exposes them to killers lurking in the grass. The migrations are timed to coincide with the annual pattern of rainfall and grass growth.
A Marlin comes equipped with an elongated body, a spear-like snout or bill, and a long, rigid dorsal fin which extends forward to form a crest, all features that give it efficient movement through the water. Marlins can swim up to 50 mph. Marlin is thought to have gotten its name because it looks somewhat like a sailor’s marlinspike, which is used to untie rope knots. Marlins are popular sporting fish that lure anglers to the open ocean. The large Atlantic Blue Marlin can reach more than 16 feet in length and weigh well over 1,800 pounds.
The Pronghorn antelope is in fact not an antelope at all. Native to interior areas of western and central North America, the speedster, alternately known as the American Antelope, prong buck, prairie antelope or simply antelope, is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae, with its closest relatives being the giraffes and okapi. Pronghorn antelopes are also distantly related to deer and gazelles, as well as livestock such as cattle, goats, and sheep.
The sailfish is easily the fastest fish in the oceans with speeds reaching around 68 mph. Their erectile dorsal fin easily identifies sailfish, also called a sail and an elongated bill that is used for hunting. The sail is normally kept tucked down when swimming leisurely but becomes erect when sailfish attack their prey.
The cheetah is built for speed with a slender body, long thin legs, and a long tail for stability when attaining speeds of 70 mph. The cheetah can run three times faster than the fastest human. Cheetahs have coarse, short fur that is yellowish tan in color and covered in solid black spots. There are between 2,000 and 3,000 spots on a cheetah, helping to camouflage the animal. Black tear-shaped streaks on the face help to reflect the sun when hunting.
The Spur-Winged Goose is the world’s largest goose, with males weighing up to 22 pounds, and can fly at 88 mph. The spur-winged goose likes company and the sociable bird can gather in flocks with up to 50 birds. The goose feeds by grazing on plants and seeds, with an occasional insect or small fish added to their diet. The Spur-Winged Goose can be found in sub-Saharan Africa around rivers, lakes, and swamps.
The frigate bird has the largest wingspan to body weight of any bird and is capable of reaching speeds of 95mph. They can soar on wind currents for a week or more at a time. The frigate bird spends most of its day in flight hunting for food, mostly fish and squid chased to the surface by predators such as tuna. Frigatebirds are also known to rob other seabirds of their food and sometimes snatch seabird chicks from their nests.
White Throated Needletail
The White Throated Needletail, also called the Spine Tailed Swift or the Needle Tailed Swift, is the fastest bird when powered flight is considered, clocking in at an amazing 106mph! White-throated needletails are large swifts with a stout, barrel-like body. They measure about eight inches and weigh between 110 and 120 grams. They are greyish-brown except for a white throat and a white patch, extending from the base of the tail to the flanks, which gives them their name.
The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet. In hunting mode, it can dive, called a stoop, at some 200 mph. And it can fly horizontally at up to 90 mph. Here are some interesting facts about the world’s fastest animal:
- The peregrine falcon is the best hunter in the falcon family, using its extraordinary eyesight to spot prey from as high as 984 feet.
- Peregrine falcon chicks mature so fast that they double their weight in six days and by three weeks are 10 times their size at birth.
- The male peregrine is called a ‘tiercel’ because it is a tierce – one third – smaller in size than the female.