Is it Possible for a Human to Run Faster than a Cheetah?

During the Summer Olympics, you will witness numerous speedy individuals competing against each other. However, if they were to race against the fastest land animal on Earth, how would they fare? And which animal holds that title? It is, of course, the cheetah!

The scientific name for cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus. Have you ever seen images of this creature? If you have, you are aware that it is a large member of the feline (cat) family. Cheetahs can be found in most parts of Africa and some parts of the Middle East.

Scientists estimate that cheetahs can reach speeds between 70-75 miles per hour. However, they cannot maintain this high speed over long distances. Nevertheless, they can achieve such velocity in short bursts, covering distances of up to 1,600 feet or more.

Cheetahs can reach these speeds rapidly as well. They can go from 0 to over 62 miles per hour in just three seconds. That is incredibly fast! In fact, it is comparable to the acceleration of the world’s most expensive sports cars, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour.

What makes cheetahs so fast? Scientists have identified several characteristics that contribute to their incredible speed. For instance, cheetahs are one of only three types of cats that possess semi-retractable claws. Unlike most other cats, cheetahs cannot fully retract their claws. This feature grants them extra traction when chasing prey.

Cheetahs also have large nostrils, which enable them to inhale more oxygen while running. Additionally, their hearts and lungs are larger than those of other cats of similar size. This allows for more efficient circulation of oxygen throughout their bodies.

Even cheetahs’ tails aid in their speed and agility, functioning like the rudder of a ship. While running, cheetahs use their tails to maintain balance and steer during sharp turns!

So, how much faster are cheetahs compared to humans? Currently, the world’s fastest human being is Jamaican Usain Bolt. In 2009, he set the world record in the 100-meter dash with an astonishing time of only 9.58 seconds. This equates to a speed of just over 23 miles per hour. It is undeniably fast, but it cannot match the cheetah! The cheetah’s top speed is approximately three times faster than Bolt’s.

Give it a Try

Wow! Today’s Wonder of the Day went by really quickly, didn’t it? Continue learning by engaging in one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Do you think you’re faster than a cheetah? It’s common knowledge that you can’t outrun a cheetah. So maybe you should try competing with slower animals instead. If you have any pets, you can take them to a local park or your backyard and exercise together. Play a game of chase and see if you can beat them in a race. Don’t worry if you come in second place. Most animals with four legs can easily beat humans with only two legs! You can also gather some friends and family members to run or jog together. If they’re up for a race, go for it! But even just walking together for fun is a good form of exercise. If you want to improve your speed, set some goals for yourself. First, time yourself running a specific distance. Then, over the next few weeks, stretch and exercise multiple times a week. After a few weeks, time yourself again and see how much you’ve improved!
  • Have you ever had the chance to see a cheetah up close in the wild? Hopefully not! If you have, it was probably a more exciting race than you expected! If you want to see some cheetahs from the comfort of your computer screen, check out these photos of cheetahs in their natural habitat. Aren’t they stunning? Would you like to see a cheetah at the zoo or in an animal sanctuary one day? Discuss with a friend or family member the new information you’ve learned about cheetahs today.
  • Cheetahs are an endangered species and struggle to adapt to new environments. What are the causes of species becoming endangered? What can people do to help? Write a few sentences about what you’ve learned. Then, ask a friend or family member to help you spread the word. Share what you’ve written on social media and tag us @wonderopolis!

Sources of Wonder

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