How fast can you run? Research suggests that human beings could run as fast as 40 miles an hour—in theory—but sprint speeds average to closer to 12-15 mph.
You may be thinking, “that’s not too shabby,” but as you will see, a 15 mph sprint would not be enough to win a race with any of the fastest animals on earth. Many animals can go much faster than we can—some of them predatory. What is the fastest animal on earth? Let’s find out.
1. Peregrine Falcon
2. Frigate Bird
3. Sail Fish
The cheetah is a sprinter, not a long distance runner, but pairs agility with speed for deadly attack runs. Cheetahs are also very fast accelerators, and can ramp up their speed four times faster than human beings can. They can also pull to a stop extremely fast. It is also interesting to note that the speed and agility of the cheetah is not matched by strength. The cheetah is fairly fragile and will lose in most fights with other predators. As a result, they will quickly surrender prey to competitors. An injured cheetah may not be able to run quickly, which can put its life in danger.
5. Pronghorn Antelope
Also curious is the fact that the pronghorn is far faster than the predators which inhabit North America. This seems to indicate that it evolved its great speed at some point in the past under the threat of a now-extinct predator, perhaps the American cheetah.
The pronghorn has a number of special adaptations that allow it to function at high speeds, including cushioned, pointed toes to absorb shock, and extra large organs that assist with air intake.
6. Blue Wildebeest
8. Thomson’s Gazelle
This is another creature in the same category as wildebeests and lions, also capable of running at around 50 miles per hour. Chases between lions and cheetahs and gazelles can be quite intense as a result of the close speed matching. Unfortunately for Thomson’s gazelles, they are the preferred prey of cheetahs, the fastest animal on our list.
9. Brown Hare
One of the smallest animals on our list is the brown hare. This little creature can run extremely fast, reaching speeds of up to 47 miles per hour. The story of the tortoise and the hare is famous for a reason. Hares really are incredibly fast creatures, and they are capable of outrunning the majority of other animals.
There are a number of animals which run faster than the elk, but the elk deserves a mention because it is a good deal larger and less “swift” looking than a gazelle or antelope. Elks can be quite large, but their size and build should not deceive you. The elk is capable of running at speeds as high as 45 miles per hour. Do not make an elk angry. If it charges you, it is going to win.
As you can see, there are some impressively fast animals on the land, as well as in the sea and air. These remarkable animals showcase the many different ways that creatures can adapt to fulfill the role of either predator or herbivore. While we may be at the top of the food chain thanks to our tools and inventions, we are easily outclassed when it comes to speed. Many of these creatures are as fast as the cars we have constructed to get from place to place at a reasonable pace. If that isn’t a humbling thought, what is?