Animals must be fast to survive in the wild and save their lives, of course. It’s no secret that they need speed to catch their prey, and this superpower is essential for escaping and hiding from predators.
There are animals that have more qualities than just speed, namely that some of these ultimate speed machines can fly, others swim, and some run on land. According to animal experts, the speed of fast animals can be determined in different ways; for example, some specialists look at speed compared to body length, while others look at acceleration.
According to a recent study from the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the top speed of an animal is determined by its size. “Scientists have long struggled with the fact that the largest animals are not the fastest,” explained lead author Myriam Hirt, a biologist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig. If muscles were so important, then “elephants would reach the top speeds of about 600 kph (370 mph). Species that gain the most selective advantage — predators and prey with just a few places to hide, for example — will approach the predicted maximum speeds,” she added.
That being said, we must remember that although most of the fastest animals in the world are birds, you will find in this article a selection of the fastest animals from different environments, namely land, sea, and air. So, read on to find out more!
- Speed: 77 kph (48mph)
The European hare, or the brown hare, is the largest hare species and one of the fastest terrestrial mammals that can be found in Europe and other parts of Asia. These cute creatures are herbivores, which means that they feed on grasses, herbs, and other various plants. Even though they are generally nocturnal animals, they can also be seen in daylight during the spring.
European hares’ breeding season lasts from January to August, and females can be pregnant in all breeding months, while males are fertile almost all year round. Their babies are active as soon as they are born. They reach high speeds of endurance running to hide from predators, such as birds of prey, canids, felids, and the red fox, which have the same speed.
Blue Wildebeest, Springbok and Thomson’s gazelle
- Speed: 80 kph (50mph)
The blue wildebeest is a large antelope and one of the fastest animals on Earth. They are herbivores, which means that their diet consists of short grasses. The blue wildebeest’s breeding season starts at the end of the rainy season, and females give birth to a calf after a gestational period of 8.5 months. The calf will stay with its mother for almost 8 months.
The springbok can be found in southern and southwestern Africa, and their slender and long legs make them one of the fastest animals in the world. They are active around dawn and dusk and can feed at night in hot weather. In general, their social behavior is similar to that of Thomson’s gazelles. Springbok feed on shrubs, young succulents, and various grasses. They are able to survive without water because they meet their water needs from the food they eat.
Thomson’s gazelle is a famous species of gazelle and is named after explorer Joseph Thomson. They can be found in Africa and can reach up to 80–90 km/h (50–55 mph). According to animal experts, Thomson’s gazelle is the 4th fastest land animal after the cheetah, which is its main predator, as are springboks.
- Speed: 80 kph (50mph)
The marlin is a fish from the family Istiophoridae and one of the fastest marine swimmers in the world. This species of fish is considered by researchers to be one of the largest, fastest, and most beautiful fish out there. Females are generally larger than males.
Their diet consists of mackerel, tuna, and squid. Marlins are popular sporting fish in tropical areas, and their meat is often seen as a delicacy in Japan. They are not yet endangered, but animal experts say that they are more likely to become endangered in the near future because they are unsustainably fished in some areas.
- Speed: 98 kph (60mph)
The pronghorn is known as North America’s fastest land mammal. The breeding season of pronghorns is in mid-September, and females give birth to one or two fawns after a gestation period of 235 days.
Even though they are really good at running, it seems that pronghorns can’t jump but climb instead. These interesting creatures are herbivores and can eat some plants that are normally toxic to certain domestic animals. In addition, their eyes are super large, which means that they can see 320 degrees around.
- Speed: 110 kph (68mph)
A sailfish belongs to the genus Istiophorus that can be found in the coldest waters of all the seas in the world. According to animal experts, the sailfish is the fastest fish in the ocean and can’t grow more than 3 m (9.8 ft).
Just like the blue marlin and swordfish, the sailfish is a type of billfish. Females can be larger than males because they have to carry a lot of eggs during the reproduction process.
When they are young, they can feed on zooplankton, and as adults, their diet consists of bony fish, crustaceans, and squid. These species of fish can live up to 15 years.
- Speed: 128 kph (80mph)
The cheetah is a large wild feline that can be found in Africa and central Iran. It is also famous for being the fastest land animal in the world. They are active during the day, and their habit is to hunt at dawn and dusk. They feed on impala, springbok, and Thomson’s gazelles.
According to animal experts, in 2016, there were only 7,100 cheetahs in the wild, and because of this, they are considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Speed: 142 kph (88mph)
The spur-winged goose is closely related to the geese and the shelducks and is one of the fastest birds in the world. They are the largest species of goose on earth and can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. You should never eat this type of goose because you can die.
They feed on blister beetles, which makes them poisonous. Researchers say that males are usually larger than females. Even though they are generally quiet, they often gather in groups of about 50 individuals.
- Speed: 171 kph (106mph)
The white-throated needletail is a large swift and one of the fastest birds in the world. According to animal experts, the white-throated needletail doesn’t like to spend its time on the ground, so these creatures are more likely to be seen in the air.
Their diet consists of various insects, such as beetles, flies, bees, and moths. They are migratory birds that breed in Central Asia and southern Siberia, and during the colder seasons, they can be found in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
If you want to discover more facts about wild animals, this encyclopedia is a good place to start.
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