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Animals

Top 12 Fastest Land Animals In The World

Published April 5, 2016
Which is the fastest animal in the world? To make a fair list over the world's fastest animals we have not included animals that reach their top speed in air or in water. If one would include birds in this list, the whole list would be filled with them. The fastest fish can on the other hand compete with about the same speeds as the fastest land animals, but to compare speeds in water (or air) with speeds on land is not quite fair. We have therefore compiled a list over the fastest land animals, that is, animals that reach their top speed on the ground.
       However, it might be fun to know that the fastest animal of all categories is the peregrine falcon, who can reach a staggering 320 km/h (199 mph) when diving. The white-throated needletail is the fastest bird in horizontal flight, reaching speeds of 170 km/h (106 mph). The world's fastest animal in water is the sailfish, who can swim at 110 km/h (68 mph), which matches the fastest land animal. As a comparison, the top speed of the fastest human in the world, Usain Bolt, is 45 km/h (28 mph). He would thus be outrun by both cat and wild boar, at least at short distances. At long distances however, the human is pretty persevering, while the fastest animal in the world only can make short bursts before having to rest.
       To exactly measure how fast different animals run is hard, partly due to the fact that most of them are wild, and party due to their speed varying from individual to individual. Examples of animals that don't make the list, but among which certain individuals might reach speeds in excess of 70 km/h (43 mph), are cougar, jaguar, red fox, hyena and zebra.
       'Nuff said, here are the fastest (living) land animals in the world, ranked according to their top speed.
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12. Ostrich - 70 km/h (43 mph)

The world's largest bird is also the world's fastest bird on land. The ostrich has evolved this ability since it, unlike other birds, can't fly away from its enemies, but has to run. Using its powerful legs the ostrich can reach speeds of 70 km/h (43 mph), and thus outrun African predators such as hyenas and even the fastest land animal (at long distances). If caught up it has another weapon - its kicks, which are powerful enough to kill a lion or a human. Ostriches also lay the biggest eggs in the world.

11. Wildebeest - 70 km/h (43 mph)

Wildebeests, or gnus, live in gigantic herds on the African plains and must like many of the others on this list run really fast to escape the fastest predators. The blue wildebeest (photo) can despite its rather beefy appearance reach 70 km/h (43 mph) in flight (some sources say 80 km/h - 50 mph). Newborn wildebeest calves have to be able to use their legs quickly to avoid becoming food for lions or other predators, and they can normally jump and run without falling within one hour.
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10. Coyote - 70 km/h (43 mph)

The coyote lives in almost all of North America and is slightly faster then its relatives the red fox and the grey wolf. It can catch up to both rabbits and birds, but its speed is most important when escaping predators. Although the coyote is faster than wolves and cougars, both of them can sometimes sneak up on and kill a coyote. Occasionally, coyotes may attack humans, but only two cases with fatal outcomes are known.

9. African Wild Dog - 70 km/h (43 mph)

A canid estimated to run just as fast as the coyote is the African wild dog. Because of its looks it's also called the African painted dog. It also looks a lot like a hyena, but this is rather misleading since hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs. African wild dogs hunt in packs och can, thanks to their numerical advantage and stamina, catch gazelles and other animals that are actually faster than them. The African wild dog is endangered due to human expansion in Africa and, despite being protected, is sometimes hunted by angry farmers after they have attacked their cattle.

8. Deer - 70 km/h (43 mph)

Deer (Cervidae) is a family of ruminant animals including such animals as moose, roe deer, reindeer, red deer and fallow deer. There are around 40 different species of deer around the world, and almost all of them are really fast when it comes to escaping danger. Both roe deer and moose can run upto 60 km/h (37 mph), while the world's third fastest deer - the red deer - can reach 65 km/h (40 mph). The fastest deer in the world is thought to be the elk, also called the wapiti (photo), which lives in eastern Asia and western North America. The wapiti is the second largest deer after the moose, and is estimated to reach speeds of 70 km/h (43 mph) in flight.

7. Dog - 72 km/h (45 mph)

The fastest canid in the world is actually the domestic dog. But not breeds like the pug or the Chihuahua, but the speed monster the Greyhound (photo). Thanks to its speed it's used in dog racing, and a speed of 72 km/h (45 mph) has been measured on the track's straight parts. Greyhounds can also accelerate extremely fast - they can reach their top speed after just six steps. They are also very suitable as pet dogs, despite often running away to hunt animals.

6. Lion - 80 km/h (50 mph)

The lion is the largest predator in Africa and the second largest feline in the world after the tiger. Among the lion's prey are antelopes, gazelles, wildebeests and zebras, all of which are fast animals themselves. The lion can often match its prey in sense of speed, but they have comparably weak stamina. Therefore, they have to sneak up very close to their prey, and attack only when they are within 30 m (33 yd) of them. It is believed that some lion individuals can reach 80 km/h (50 mph), but only for very short bursts.

5. Horse - 88 km/h (55 mph)

Horses come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them can gallop really fast. The thoroughbred is usually considered the fastest breed. Their average speed at races can be upto 65 km/h (40 mph), and they are even faster on the home stretch. However, the fastest horse breed in the world is the slightly smaller American quarter horse (photo), which has lower stamina then the thoroughbred, but is faster at shorter distances. They've been measured doing a whopping 88 km/h (55 mph) during races.

4. Impala - 90 km/h (56 mph)

The impala lives in Africa and is one of all the animal species referred to as antelopes. Antelope is actually an umbrella term for around 90 animal species who all are included in the family of bovids. All bovid species are however not antelopes, and some antelopes are more closely related to goats and sheep than to each other, which makes the term antelope very hard to use in any useful way. The impala is a quick and bouncy deer that in flight can reach a speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) and make 9 m (10 yd) long jumps. The impala was previously placed in the same subfamily as the true antelopes (below), but scientists found them so different they placed them in a separate subfamily.

3. True Antelopes - 95 km/h (59 mph)

True antelopes, or Antilopinae, is a subfamily of bovids containing several species, such as gazelles, antelopes and dwarf antelopes. They mainly live on the great plains of Africa and Asia, and usually in groups consisting of one male and many females. Thomson's gazelle and Grant's gazelle (both in Africa) distinguish themselves among the gazelles as they both can reach 80 km/h (50 mph). The very fastest is however the African gazelle called the springbok (photo). It can jump 4 m (4 yd) high and 15 m (16 yd) long, and can reach a speed of 95 km/h (59 mph). And that's fortunate, since one of its enemies is the fastest land animal in the world.

2. Pronghorn - 100 km/h (62 mph)

The pronghorn lives in North America, and is the only member of its family and the only antelope in the Americas. Despite also being referred to as the pronghorn antelope or simply antelope, it is not considered a true antelope as above. The pronghorn's worst enemies are wolves, coyotes and cougars. But none of them can catch a healthy and fullgrown pronghorn, only young, old och sick individuals. One hypothesis why the pronghorn can run at a mind-blowing 100 km/h (62 mph) is that it once was prey to the American chetaah, which went extinct 11,000 years ago.

1. Cheetah - 120 km/h (75 mph)

The cheetah lives in Africa and parts of the Middle East and is by a faily large margin the fastest land animal in the world by top speed. A cheetah can accelerate from 0 till 100 km/h (63 mph) in 3 s, which means it would outrun most sports cars in the start. And then, it can reach astonishing speeds of between 110 and 120 km/h (68 and 75 mph)! Its stamina is however not perfect and it can "only" hold its top speed for 500 m (547 yd). It therefore needs to sneak up close to its prey, which are mostly impalas, Thomson's gazelles, Grant's gazelles and springboks - all super fast animals who outrun the cheetah at longer distances. If the cheetah is not successful in taking down its prey relatively fast, it gives up. But more than 50 % of attacks end in the cheetah's favour, which is the highest success rate in the world of all animals who hunt alone (most successful is the African wild dog who in packs succeeds in 80 % of attacks). Despite the cheetah's speed it is because of its bad stamina and lack of brute strength pretty much without a chance if it has to compete with anyone else for the prey it has already caught. The cheetah then rather chooses to flee than to fight, and on average looses half of its prey to predators such as lions and hyenas. Furthermore, around 90 % of cheetah cubs are eaten by predators during its first weeks in life, so although the cheetah is the fastest land animal it does live a pretty tough life. The ability to run really fast is something the cheetah has evolved in order to survive, just like all the other animals on this list.
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