Hmmm…did I miss a day? It seems I am a day behind. Oh, well, better just do Saturday. I wouldn’t really have anything for Fieldnote Friday anyway.
Scientists from Britain’s Royal Veterinary College are trying to discover how cheetahs move at the highest running speeds on the planet. Cheetahs reach speeds of at least 64 miles per hour, a speed that can be reached in only a few seconds.
Researchers baited the cheetahs by attaching chicken bits to a rope pulled at high speeds. As the chicken and cheetah move past, four high speeds cameras, which shoot at 1,000 frames per second, capture the action. Furthermore, sensitive computer plates in the track on which the cheetahs run will record the forces exerted by the legs of the cat.
Greyhounds can reach 40 miles per hour and are limited by the speed at which they can swing their legs. Humans, namely Usain Bolt, can reach 23 miles per hour due to comparatively low leg strength. So what makes cheetahs so fast?
Well, whereas greyhounds are artificially bred to be fast, cheetahs evolved by necessity for speed (a need for speed, so to say). Also, when a cheetah moves at full speed, the sides of its body shifts differently. What this means, is not quite known yet. It may be caused by their flexible spines, high scapulae (shoulder blades), or flexible legs.
The team also hopes to learn more about the cheetah’s top speeds. A 1965 experiment clocked the big cat at a high of 64 mph. That is now the standard. But researchers now think it is very likely that the cats can run even faster than this. To answer this big question, scientists want to study cheetahs in the wild for extended periods of time.
The Cosmic Perspective
This research made me ask some questions. We humans aren’t particularly amazing. We don’t have size and strength like elephants. We don’t have amazing eyesight like birds of prey. We don’t run that fast either. So how did we reach where we are today? Personally, I think it is our ability to quickly adapt to different situations by processing information. Many people are used to going to the supermarket and buying food, but drop them in the middle of the wilderness, and after some panic, will go right into survival mode and use what is available to them to create tools and survive. So perhaps that is what we are “the best” at.