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15 Fastest Animals in the World

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·7 min read
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In this article, we will take a look at the 15 fastest animals in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of these animals, and go directly to 5 Fastest Animals in the World.

Life for animals in the wilderness is harsh and full of struggles. Animals constantly face existential problems like hunger, thirst, cold and injury.

One can truly see Charles Darwin's thoughts on "survival of the fittest" in action in the Savannah. Animals rely heavily on physical prowess and capabilities to survive and breed in the wild. Speed is one of the key abilities and strengths which could make all the difference out there.

Firstly, speed minimizes the risk of interaction between two species. Numerous scientists and researchers have noticed that when given the opportunity, the animals avoid confrontation. Animals rely heavily on speed to avoid/win competition. Similarly, speed helps in one of the basic survival tactics of animals i.e., marking their territories. Through their high speeds, they can explore vast areas of their territories and also defend them in case of compromise. Moreover, speed also increases the probability of successful hunting. In essence, it ensures survival.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Our Methodology

To rank the fastest animals, we are left to rely only on recorded speed of animals in terms of kilometers per hour (kph) or miles per hour (mph). Along with this, the bodily modifications and evolutionary changes that make the use of this speed effective are also taken into consideration while ranking the animals. When it comes to the animals, our media and pop culture have given birth to multiple misconceptions such as the tendency of sharks to smell blood over miles, the ability of cockroaches to survive a nuclear blast, and the cheetah being the fastest animal alive. This article is going to clarify at least one of these myths by listing the 15 fastest animals in the world (starting from slowest to fastest). The ranking of various animals has been done based on data taken from multiple avenues such as National Geographic, Animal Kingdom, One Kind Planet, Africa Freak, Safaris Africana, San Diego Wildlife Alliance (for animals), Oceana, National Ocean Service, Oceanwide Expeditions, Marine Bio (for fish), and All About Birds, Wildlife Waystation, Live Science (for birds).

With this context in mind, let's now discuss our list of the 15 fastest animals in the world.

15 Fastest Animals in the World

15. African Wild Dog

Speed: Over 71 kph (44 mph)

The African wild dog, one of the most beautiful yet endangered species of the Safari, has been seen to sprint with a top-notch speed of 70 kph. In contrast with the lions and the cheetahs, they tend to run over long distances (approaching as far as 5 kilometers). Their medium height of 1 meter, the insignificant weight of 25-30 kg coupled with their thin long legs and lightweight frames allow them to reach these high speeds.

You can watch videos of African wild dogs in action on video and streaming platforms like Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s YouTube, Discovery Inc Series C (NASDAQ: DISCK), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

14. Ostrich

Speed: Over 72 kph (44 mph)

According to the American Ostrich Association, with the help of their thin legs and flexible body structure, the ostrich can achieve sprinting speeds of over 72 kph. With a weight of around 145 kilograms, ostriches are being ranked the world’s heaviest bird and their wings are not adaptable for flight, rather help them in running continuously over sustained periods.

13. Thomson’s Gazelle

Speed: Over 80 kph (49 mph)

Eudorcas thomsonii, more commonly referred to as Thomson’s Gazelle tends to reach a staggeringly high speed of over 80 kph to avoid predators. To achieve these high speeds, various species of gazelle rely on a bounding leap, referred to as “pronking” or “stotting”, which involves jumping in the air. Interestingly enough, they can outrun a cheetah, as they can maintain their speed over a longer duration of time, unlike cheetahs.

You can watch videos of gazelles running at high speeds on video and streaming platforms like Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s YouTube, Discovery Inc Series C (NASDAQ: DISCK), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

12. Blue Wildebeest

Speed: Over 80 kph (49 mph)

Blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) are born to run. Despite their weight of around 290 kg, using the muscles in their hind legs, they can reach over 80 kph, to avoid predators.

11. Lion

Speed: Over 81 kph (50 mph)

Lion, the king of the beasts, although weighs around 370–500 pounds, still, with the help of its sleek shape can maintain a balance between torque and stealth. The lion, with the help of its powerful muscles and tendons, can reach a staggering speed of over 81 kph. However, the energy which is used to channelize their muscles and tendons tire the animal, limiting its sprinting over very short distances.

You can watch videos of lions running at high speeds on video and streaming platforms like Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s YouTube, Discovery Inc Series C (NASDAQ: DISCK), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

10. Springbok

Speed: Over 88 kph (54 mph)

Springbok, measuring up to 85 cm at the shoulder, ranging up to 1.5m in length, and weighing over 35-40 kg, is remarkable in terms of its speed (reaching over 88kph). However, more than its speed, its agility, tendency to turn, hop, jump and sidestep is what make it an extremely difficult prey. These tactics of springbok make them faster than lions, leopards, hyenas, and most of their natural predators except for a cheetah.

9. Pronghorn

Speed: Over 98 kph (61 mph)

Pronghorns, weighing over 90-150 lb, are among the speediest animals in North America, with an impressive running speed of over 98 kph. With the help of their impeccable horns and their strong hind legs, they can outrun bobcats and coyotes. Their hooves have long, pointed cushions which can absorb shock while running at high speeds. Moreover, their persistence in running with their mouths open rushes oxygen into their lungs, allowing them to run for a distance of over several miles.

You can watch videos of pronghorns running at high speeds on video and streaming platforms like Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s YouTube, Discovery Inc Series C (NASDAQ: DISCK), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

8. Sailfish

Speed: Over 109 kph (67 mph)

Sailfish, weighing around 220 lb, named after the sail-like dorsal fin, has been found to swim at a staggeringly high speed of 109 kph. The sailfish have been reported to swim at such high speed due to the changes in their hydrodynamic characteristics (low drag coefficients and presence of a long bill).

7. Cheetah

Speed: Over 113 kph (70 mph)

Cheetahs, with a tendency to run three times faster than an average human being, can reach a top speed of 113 kph (70 mph), making them the 7th fastest animal. Their muscular yet lean structure, coupled with large nostrils for an easy inhaling of oxygen allows them to achieve staggering high speeds. Moreover, their flexible spines provide them the tendency to cover more distance with each stride. These bodily modifications and evolution with time have enabled the cheetahs to surpass the challenges that many of the other big cats face (such as taking swift and sharp turns to grab their prey).

6. Grey-Headed Albatross

Speed: Over 127 kph (78 mph)

Belonging to the largest wilderness of the planet i.e., Antarctica, the grey-headed albatross ranks 6th in our list of the fastest animals in the world with a record flight speed of over 127 kph. Their 2.2m wingspan and a weight of 3 to 4.5 kg allow them to be airborne for hours, maintaining a considerably constant cruising tempo.

One can watch videos of grey-headed albatross flying at high speeds on video and streaming platforms like Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s YouTube, Discovery Inc Series C (NASDAQ: DISCK), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

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Disclosure: None. 15 Fastest Animals in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.