Land speed record holder

World of Animals - - 30 Amazing Facts About Cheetahs -

Chee­tahs are fa­mous for be­ing fast. In fact, in­di­vid­u­als have been clocked at speeds of 98 kilo­me­tres (60.9 miles) per hour. No other land an­i­mal can keep up with the chee­tah, though cer­tain birds would win in a race. Pere­grine fal­cons, for ex­am­ple, can zoom at over 321.9 kilo­me­tres (200 miles) per hour with the help of grav­ity.

Chee­tahs can only sus­tain bursts of speed last­ing 20 to 30 sec­onds, just long enough to catch up to flee­ing prey. The el­e­ment of sur­prise is cru­cial, and a sud­den ap­proach is a chee­tah’s most ef­fi­cient method of en­sur­ing a kill. It takes only three sec­onds for a chee­tah to ac­cel­er­ate from zero to 60 miles (96.5 kilo­me­tres) per hour, mak­ing it faster than a Fer­rari Enzo, a Lam­borgh­ini Gal­lardo and a McLaren F1. De­spite these im­pres­sive sta­tis­tics, only around 50 per cent of hunts are suc­cess­ful.

The chee­tah’s speed is a feat of evo­lu­tion that be­gan 5.5 mil­lion years ago. Fast­mov­ing an­i­mals had bet­ter odds of sur­vival than slower run­ners, and the cats that could out­run prey were the ones to pass on their genes to the next gen­er­a­tion.

Speed alone isn’t what makes the chee­tah a suc­cess­ful hunter. The unique anatomy of the in­ner ear pro­vides ex­cep­tional bal­ance, al­low­ing the an­i­mal to hold its gaze at high ve­loc­ity. The eyes lock on to the tar­get and re­main steady un­til the prey has been cap­tured. The in­ner ear is ex­cep­tion­ally sen­si­tive to head mo­tion due to the enor­mous vol­ume of the ear canal, which sends rapid sig­nals to the brain. These elec­tri­cal im­pulses of in­for­ma­tion help the chee­tah make tiny ad­just­ments to keep its head level while run­ning to max­imise the chances of a suc­cess­ful hunt.

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