Sunday, December 18, 2005

Weird Science: Fast Animals

A while ago I did a piece on fast fish. So today, with almost no time for this post - it’s going to be fast animals.

And unlike fish, everybody’s likely guess of the fastest is the cheetah. And, this time, you are right.

Wow can that cat run. Here are the specs on this four legged speedster. He (or she) can accelerate from 0 to 45 miles per hour in less than 2 seconds. That’s better than most cars on the market today, with the exception of a very few, very high performance ones.

But that’s not all - no you don’t get a great knife that dices and slices - the cheetah can reach a top speed of around 70 miles per hour. 70. Miles. Per. Hour.

That is way fast. For those in metric land that is around 112.6 kilometers an hour. Any highway in Canada and you would be getting a speeding ticket for that.

I’ll do a list of top ten at the end so you can keep them in order, post them on your fridge, or just rattle them off at parties this Christmas . . .

So, now we come to number 2. - the Pronghorn antelope. Now the antelope is no slouch doing a top speed of 61 miles per hour. That is really fast, fast enough to outrun on the flats any of its natural predators.

Third we have my favorite. Perhaps because in an episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil says (to the old hard-to-please lady) something like. "What do you expect, herds of Wildebeests roaming majestically on the fields?" or some such. I’m in a rush today - sorry for the "almost" correct quotation.

So the Wildebeest comes in number 3 at 50 miles per hour. Then in fourth we have Lion at roughly the same speed. Then fifth we have Thomson’s gazelle at around the same speed as the previous two.

You can see the lion has a harder time with his main snacks because they all motor at about 50 miles per hour. That’s why you see in lion hunting videos lions slinking in as far as they can get while other lions help to cut off the prey’s escape routes.

Now notice, next time you are watching a nature video, the cheetah doesn’t bother much with the slinking. He (or she - must not discriminate) goes for flat out speed to take down his slower prey.

Okay - now with the top five out of the way guessing the next five is a little harder. Would you believe number 6 spot goes to (the envelope please) - The quarter horse?

Okay, maybe you did guess that. The quarter horse can hit almost 48 miles per hour. I wonder if a "full" horse could do four times that? Okay, back to reality.

Number 7 is - The elk. Yup antlers and all this large mammal can cruise the wilds at 45 miles per hour when chugging full tilt. As well, in number 8 spot, the Cape Hunting Dog and greyhound can do the same speed - but I don’t’ think quarter horses are their prey - but Superman better watch out. Good thing he can fly.

Number 9 is the Coyote at 43 miles per hour. Yes, the coyote. Which brings up an interesting thing. Notice the "road runner" is not on the list yet. So, what was Wylie buying all that ACME stuff for if he was naturally faster than the road runner? Beats me, but it sure made for a great Saturday morning cartoon. "Beep-beep"

And at number 10 - why it’s the humble Gray Fox doing a relatively slow top speed of 42 miles per hour.

And number 11 (just throwing this in) is me - soon to be rushing like a lunatic to get ready for a Christmas concert in - Yikes! - ten minutes.

Here is the promised list.

1) Cheetah ~ 70 mph
2) Pronghorn antelope ~ 61 mph
3) Wildebeest ~ 50 mph
4) Lion ~ 50 mph
5) Thomson’s gazelle ~ 50 mph
6) Quarter horse ~ 48 mph
7) Elk ~ 45 mph
8) Cape hunting dog and greyhound ~ 45 mph
9) Coyote ~ 43 mph
10) Gray fox ~ 42 mph

11) Me Running Late ~ 40 mph, okay - 4 mph.

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