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Speed Comparison: World's Fastest Animals

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 Biology   |   Science
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Incredible Animation Shows a Comparison of Animals' Speed








For some reason, the idea that cheetahs are the worlds fastest animal has turned into fact through years of childhood repetition.

But not all great qualities in the animal kingdom are so easily settled as height and weight.
In fact, determining the worlds fastest animal is much more complicated than you might think.

Cheetahs can reach a speed of 70 miles per hour. Thats about three times faster than the top running speed of a human which is 27 miles per hour.

Native to the world's colder oceans, the Sailfish is iconic thanks to the long, sail-like fin that runs the length of its back. These blue-gray fish swim up to 70 miles per hour, bringing it neck to neck with the cheetah in the race to be the fastest. Their speed is about two times the speed of sharks, and three times the top speed of the Titanic.

Looking at the everyday pigeon, you wouldn't assume that they're very special. However, they are surprisingly fast flyers! Pigeons can reach top speeds of 76 miles per hour, making them slightly faster than cheetahs but not the fastest by any means.

When it comes to level flight speeds, the Gray-headed Albatross takes the cake. These simple gray birds are able to reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. They are seabirds who breed and live on islands within the Southern Ocean.

The Black Marlin tops the cheetah in speed by almost 12 miles per hour. It can swim at a speed of 80 miles per hour, which, in perspective, is crazy fast as its faster than youre allowed to drive on the freeway! This speedy fish can be observed in the tropical areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Spur-Winged Goose is the worlds largest goose, but it doesnt let its size hinder it! Nope, this large bird flies at a top speed of 88 miles per hour. In addition, the spur-winged goose, despite being related to both geese and shelducks, is unique enough to have its own subfamily.

Horseflies - specifically the male variety- are pretty fast. These little insects fly as fast as 90 miles per hour, leaving the Spur-Winged goose in their rear-view mirrors so to speak. Though they arent an animal or object, their speed puts them on this list without hesitation.

Moving approximately 5 miles per hour faster than the male horsefly, the Frigate Bird can reach an impressive speed of 95 miles per hour. These birds are known for being able to stay aloft for up to two months without touching down on land or water. They can eat and sleep on the wing.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats are native to the Americas, with very few locations housing them in abundance. When flying, they can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour, making them the fastest bat ever recorded.

The Eurasian Hobby is tied with the Mexican free-tailed bat, flying at a speed of 100 miles per hour. These birds are made to maintain their speed over long distances.

Another shockingly fast bird, the White Throated Needletail comes in at 107 miles per hour. It is the second fastest bird known to date.

The Golden Eagle has an average flight speed of 120 miles per hour, you may think it is the fastest on our list, but the peregrine falcon flies twice as fast at a speed of 240 miles per hour. Thats over three times the speed of the cheetah, and half the cruising speed of a passenger aircraft. Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird in the world and has the fastest visual processing speed of any animal.

So if were done shaming the cheetah, can we just crown the Peregrine Falcon for the worlds fastest animal?
Well, it all depends on how you think about speed.


While some creatures are fast all the time, others see their speeds peak when they accelerate to reach their top cruising or striking speed. For example, the mantis shrimp uses a specially designed hammer-like appendage that is spring-loaded, striking its target within only 3 milliseconds! In other words, by the time a human blinks once, the mantis shrimp could have struck its unfortunate victim 90 times.

Jellyfish boasts an even faster acceleration. It puts the mantis shrimp to shame when it comes to how quickly it can strike. These creatures inject their harpoons into their target at speeds that are comparable to bullets flying out of a gun. These harpoons can launch within 700 nanoseconds and, if that wasnt impressive enough, they accelerate at speeds that top the acceleration of the force of gravity.

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