Why Are Cheetahs the Fastest Land Animal? | Summary and Q&A

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June 16, 2020
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Why Are Cheetahs the Fastest Land Animal?

TL;DR

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals due to physical characteristics such as a flexible spine, paw pads for traction, and an aerodynamic body, despite their similar size to other slower animals.

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Key Insights

  • 🐎 Cheetahs' speed is not solely determined by their size but by their physical characteristics that enhance their sprinting capabilities.
  • πŸ’† Larger animals have more muscle mass but struggle to accelerate due to their mass, using up energy before reaching their top speed.
  • 🐎 A maximum speed model based on body size allows researchers to predict the speed of extinct species.

Transcript

[ β™ͺINTRO ] Pretty much everyone over the age of four has heard that cheetahs are the fastest land animal. These long, lean cats can accelerate from zero to 72 kilometers per hour in 2.5 seconds, which is ridiculously fast. Faster than a lot of cars. But if you stop to think about it, it kind of seems like a /bigger/ animal ought to hold the land sp... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why are cheetahs considered the fastest land animals?

Cheetahs are equipped with physical characteristics such as a flexible spine, paw pads for traction, large organs, and an aerodynamic body, which enable them to reach incredible speeds.

Q: Why aren't bigger animals faster than smaller ones?

Larger animals have more fast twitch muscle fibers, but their mass makes it harder for them to accelerate quickly, causing them to use up their energy before reaching top speed.

Q: How accurate is the maximum speed model developed by researchers?

The maximum speed model based on body size is accurate not only for land animals but also for birds, insects, and fish. It can even predict the speed of extinct species like Velociraptors.

Q: What makes cheetahs different from other animals of the same size?

Cheetahs have physical advantages such as a longer and more flexible spine, paw pads for traction, a larger heart, liver, and adrenal gland, an aerodynamic body, and swiveling hips, allowing them to outrun their slower counterparts.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Cheetahs are known as the fastest land animals, able to accelerate from zero to 72 kilometers per hour in 2.5 seconds.

  • Skeletal muscles in animals come in two types: slow twitch and fast twitch, with fast twitch muscles being responsible for rapid actions like sprinting.

  • While larger animals logically have more muscle mass and should be faster, their fast twitch muscles run out of fuel quickly, hindering their acceleration.

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