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Fastest Animals on Earth

The fastest animals on our planet are amazing. To see how a living being can outperform a racing car in speed is simply fabulous

In this article we are going to describe you some of the characteristics of the fastest animals that inhabit our planet

The fastest animal on the planet: the peregrine falcon

El halcón peregrino es el animal más rápido del mundo.

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as a peregrine, and historically as a duck falcon in North America, is a cosmopolitan bird of prey (raptor) of the family Falconidae

It is a large, crow-sized falcon with a bluish-gray back, white underparts and black head. It is famous for its speed, reaching up to 320 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting dive (high-speed dive), making it the fastest bird in the world, as well as the fastest member of the animal kingdom

According to a National Geographic television program, the maximum measured speed of a peregrine falcon is 389 km/h. As is typical of bird-eating raptors, peregrine falcons are sexually dimorphic, with females being considerably larger than males.

The breeding range of the peregrine falcon includes terrestrial regions from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. It can be found almost everywhere on Earth, except in extreme polar regions, very high mountains and most tropical rainforests; the only ice-free land mass from which it is totally absent is New Zealand. This makes it the world’s most widespread raptor and one of the most widespread bird species. In fact, the only land bird species found over a wider geographical area is not always natural, but one widely introduced by humans, the rock pigeon, which in turn now supports many peregrine populations as a prey species

The peregrine is a very successful example of urban wildlife throughout much of its range, taking advantage of tall buildings as nesting sites and the abundance of prey, such as pigeons and ducks

Both the English and scientific names of this species mean “wandering hawk”, in reference to the migratory habits of many northern populations. Experts recognize between 17 and 19 subspecies, varying in appearance and range; there is disagreement as to whether the distinctive Barbary falcon is represented by two subspecies of Falco peregrinus, or is a separate species, F. pelegrinoides. The divergence of the two species is relatively recent, during the time of the last ice age, so the genetic difference between them (and also the difference in their appearance) is relatively small. They differ genetically by only 0.6-0.8%.

Although their diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the peregrine sometimes hunts small mammals, small reptiles or even insects. It reaches sexual maturity at one year of age, mates for life and nests in a skyscraper, usually on cliff edges or, in recent times, in tall man-made structures

They became an endangered species in danger of extinction in many areas due to the widespread use of certain pesticides, especially DDT. Since the banning of DDT in the early 1970s, populations have recovered, thanks to large-scale protection of nesting sites and releases into the wild.

The peregrine falcon is a highly respected falconry bird due to its great hunting ability, high trainability, versatility and availability through captive breeding. It is effective with most species of game birds, from small to large. It has also been used as a religious, royal or national symbol in multiple eras and areas of human civilization.

The fastest land animal: The cheetah

El guepardo es el animal terrestre más veloz.

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a big cat native to Africa and central Iran. It is the fastest land animal, estimated to be capable of running at speeds of between 80 and 128 km/h, with the fastest speeds reliably recorded being 93 and 98 km/h. As such, it has several adaptations for speed, including a light build, long slender legs and a long tail. It typically reaches 67-94 cm (26-37 in) at the shoulder, and head and body lengths range from 1.1 to 1.5 m (3 ft 7 in and 4 ft 11 in). Adults weigh between 21 and 72 kg (46 and 159 lb).

Its head is small and rounded, and it has a short muzzle and teardrop-shaped black facial streaks. The coat is usually fawn to creamy white or pale beige and is mostly covered with evenly spaced solid black spots. Four subspecies are recognized.

The cheetah lives in three main social groups: females and their cubs, male “coalitions” and solitary males. While females lead a nomadic life in search of prey over large ranges, males are more sedentary and establish much smaller territories in areas with abundant prey and access to females.

It is active during the day, with peaks during dawn and dusk. It feeds on small and medium-sized prey, mostly under 40 kg, and prefers medium-sized ungulates, such as impala, gazelle and Thomson’s gazelle.

It usually stalks its prey up to 60-70 m (200-230 ft), charges towards it, trips it during the chase and bites its throat to choke it to death. It breeds throughout the year. After a gestation of almost three months, a litter of three or four cubs is born. Cheetah cubs are very vulnerable to predation by other large carnivores, such as hyenas and lions. They are weaned at four months and are independent at 20 months.

The cheetah is found in diverse habitats, such as the savannahs of the Serengeti, the arid mountain ranges of the Sahara and the rugged desert terrain of Iran. The cheetah is threatened by several factors, including habitat loss, human conflict, poaching, and its high susceptibility to disease

Historically found in most of sub-Saharan Africa and extending eastward to the Middle East and central India, it is now distributed mainly in small, fragmented populations in central Iran and in southern, eastern and northwestern Africa. In 2016, the global cheetah population was estimated at about 7,100 individuals in the wild; it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List

In the past, cheetahs were domesticated and trained to hunt ungulates. They have been widely depicted in art, literature, advertising and animation.

The fastest animal in the sea: The shortfin mako shark

El marrajo se considera el animal más rápido sobre el agua.

The shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), also known as the blue pointer or bonito, is a large mackerel shark. It is commonly known as the shortfin mako shark, as is the shortfin mako shark (Isurus paucus)

The shortfin mako shark can reach a size of 4 m (13 ft) in length and weigh 570 kg (1,260 lb). The species is classified as endangered by the IUCN.

The shortfin mako shark is a very active shark, with enormous strength and great speed. According to recent tests, the mako shark can reach top speeds of more than 124 km/h, making it the fastest animal in the ocean, a position previously attributed to the sailfish with its 110 km/h (70 mph)

The secret of such power and speed is its perfect hydrodynamics, its powerful muscle mass, its crescent-shaped caudal fin and the fact that it is homeothermic, which triples its muscle power and allows it to make sudden bursts

This combination of strength and speed gives these animals the ability to jump very high out of the water, as the white shark does. It usually performs these jumps when hooked on a hook, during which it can reach a height of 3 to 4 meters.

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The fastest insect: Tiger beetles

El escarabajo tigre es un depredador.

Tiger beetles are a large group of beetles, from the subfamily Cicindelinae, known for their aggressive predatory habits and running speed. The fastest known tiger beetle species, Rivacindela hudsoni, can run at a speed of 9 km/h (5.6 mph; 2.5 m/s), or about 125 meters in length per second. In 2005, some 2,600 species and subspecies were known, with the greatest diversity in the eastern (Indo-Malayan) region, followed by the Neotropics.

The fast-moving adults chase their prey and are extremely fast in flight; their reaction time is of the same order as that of common flies. Some tiger beetles of the tropics are arboreal, but most run along the ground surface. They live on seashores and lakeshores, sand dunes, beach lake beds, and clay banks or forest trails, being especially fond of sandy surfaces

Although it only reaches a speed of 8-9 kilometers per hour, it has sometimes been considered the fastest animal on the planet. In proportion, it would be as if a human had the capacity to run more than 350 km/hour

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The fastest snake: The sidewinder snake

The sidewinder viper (Crotalus cerastes), also known as the horned rattlesnake and flank rattlesnake, is a species of venomous viper belonging to the genus Crotalus (the rattlesnakes), found in the desert regions of thesouthwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Three subspecies are currently recognized

The unique way the lateral rattlesnake moves is critical to its incredible top speed, but scientists had to build a robot to learn how the fastest snakes on earth functioned. Most snakes have scales that can grip surfaces and essentially provide traction in the same way a car’s tire treads would. But sidewinders occupy the Sonoran and Mojave deserts throughout Mexico and the southwestern United States

Here, the rugged dunes and sandy sand offer the challenge that off-road desert racing would pose for a family sedan. Instead of digging into the sand, as the researchers had originally envisioned, they adjusted its angle to press as much of its body against the sand as possible. It’s a tactic that keeps even the tallest dune stable and allows this snake to keep as much “rubber on the road” as possible. At their best, rattlesnakes don’t even have to chase their prey. They are ambush predators that hide in the sand up to their necks.

Alejandra Roig

Alejandra Roig

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