The Most Fastest Animals in the World
Speed is key for animal survival in all its forms: running on land, in the air and water. Animals requiring fast movements in order to thrive depend on moving quickly in order to thrive.
Cheetahs are one of the fastest animals on land, capable of reaching 100km/h in three seconds from zero speed. Learn more about them in our Animal A-Z section!
The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the world’s fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds of over 120km/h in short bursts. A carnivorous cat that hunts by day using stealthy movements to sneak up on prey before attacking. Their long thin legs and tail help achieve these astounding speeds.
Nature designed the cheetah for speed: its light build, long tail for balance and incredible thin legs make it one of nature’s fastest creatures. Acceleration to full sprint takes three seconds while 12 body lengths can be covered per second; plus it has been known to leap three meters in one leap!
Cheetahs use their incredible speed to catch their prey – often antelope or warthogs – which they catch by running alongside it at top speed and using its incredible eyesight to spot potential targets. Their spotted coat helps blend in with grass while their exceptional vision helps them scan for prey on their way.
Cheetahs achieve extraordinary acceleration due to the fact that their muscles generate heat faster than it can be released through evaporative cooling – sweating from their paws or panting; hence their rapid acceleration. Due to this phenomenon, cheetahs generally run in short bursts rather than maintaining long sprints.
Falcons are top tier aerial predators and it is no surprise that they possess some of the fastest wings among all bird species. Peregrine falcons can achieve speeds of up to 389kmph/242mph during a hunting dive or “stoop”, thanks to powerful flight muscles combined with perfectly streamlined form and force of gravity; allowing them to quickly catch fast-moving prey such as pigeons and shorebirds midair – an astounding capability even replicated by military aircraft such as F-22 Raptor/SR-71 Blackbird!
Although peregrine falcons may be fast hunters when diving for prey, their level flight speeds don’t make the top ten list due to multiple factors like windspeed and whether they are chasing after or fleeing prey.
Many birds can reach impressive speeds, including the golden eagle and saker falcon which both soar and dive at high speed. But none can surpass the great horned owl’s 40mph speeds for speed of flight.
Peregrine Falcons are one of the world’s most widespread bird species and can be found on all continents except Antarctica. These formidable hunters inhabit cliffs, ledges and tall buildings as hunting spots; but can often be spotted gliding overhead. These falcons are best known for their spectacular courtship flights that involve both aerial acrobatics and spiralling.
The Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) is a medium-sized bird of prey belonging to the Genus Falco. This falcon shares close kinship with Old World lanner and saker falcons; however, they diverged early in their evolutionary history due to adaption for life in arid habitats. They also share DNA with duck hawks as well as American sparrow hawks, which they sometimes resemble closely in behavior.
This falcon uses various hunting techniques, from flying fast and low over vegetation or flying rapidly over ground, often surprising prey outright, to pursuing flying birds in flight. Although not highly migratory species, during winter it does withdraw from higher-elevation areas of its breeding range in Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta towards Rocky Mountains shortgrass prairies deserts of western United States as far south as northern Mexico.
The prairie falcon is an increasingly popular subject of falconry, as with proper training it can become as effective as the more famous Peregrine Falcon. Sports hunters appreciate it for its speed, stealth and ability to catch large birds midair. Thanks to captive breeding programs these birds no longer need to be captured from the wild for falconry purposes; hybridized species with features from both subspecies often make this easier trainability and greater strength than their original forms.
Sailfishes are among the most iconic marine fish. Renowned for their powerful attacks with tremendous speed, they’re famed for their dorsal fin resembling a sail to aid stability while swimming at incredible speeds.
The sailfish is considered to be one of the fastest fish species, reaching speeds up to 68mph during bursts. However, many scientists have contested this number since it includes leaping out of the water which does not constitute swimming as such. Still impressive fish!
Sailfish usually swim alone or in small groups, although they will occasionally join large schools of other billfish to hunt. Male sailfish compete fiercely with each other for females during mating season.
Scientists have discovered that sailfish employ their massive dorsal fin as an effective method for herding baitfish together for consumption. Furthermore, these fish possess the unique ability to change skin colour as a form of communication or warning predators of their presence.
The sailfish has the unique ability to leap higher than any other fish species, using this ability during mating season to demonstrate its strength and agility to rivals. Their jumps can reach 3.6 times their body length allowing them to catch and consume distant prey fish in the water.
Speed is of utmost importance for predators in tracking prey. Animals constantly engage in an evolutionary arms race with their predators; speed can determine whether an animal lives or dies.
Cheetahs are fast moving animals found across Africa’s savannas and grasslands, capable of reaching speeds of 61 mph on land. Cheetahs are considered one of the fastest land animals but only for short bursts; thus making them the fastest land animal overall. Cheetahs must remain close to their prey for effective attacks to take place.
Ostriches are another species known for being exceptionally fast on land. These large birds can run at up to 43 mph for short bursts, and are known as excellent jumpers as well as being capable of leaping 7 feet at one leap – covering 10 meters in a single stride!
Ostriches may seem fast-flying birds, but several fast-flying species surpass them as fastest birds: peregrine falcons and sail fish are both fast fliers that outshone it: peregrine falcon is the fastest powered flyer with speeds reaching 80kph (50 mph) while also diving at speeds that may mistake it for jet aircraft, while sail fish have incredible water speed of 110 kph (68mph).
As the largest flightless bird, the ostrich is an incredible running animal. These desert birds must cover a lot of ground when searching for fresh grazing pastures – sometimes up to 43 miles per hour in short bursts – and on longer journeys they maintain 31 mph speeds.
Ostriches can run fast due to having long legs for their body size. This enables them to take longer strides, covering more ground with each step. Ostriches also possess powerful muscles in their thighs which aid them when running; in fact, their leg muscles are much closer to their bodies than human runners such as Usain Bolt’s.
The pronghorn antelope is another impressive sprinter with the ability to cover short distances quickly. Although lacking in endurance and speed, like horses or cheetahs, its ability to bolt away from danger or pursue prey still gives it quite an advantage over any potential threats or predators.