A Tiny Bug Is The Fastest Land Animal

By Courtney Flannery 2014-04-30 09:22:43
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Animals are my favorite thing about living on this dumb, big blue orb. They make existing in a stressful and sometimes disappointing place a lot better. I love cats, especially, and have a soft spot for any animal that has an amazing talent.. I'm fascinated by the speed, agility and strength many creatures have. But when I found out the mighty cheetah, which I had always been told was the fastest thing on legs and one of my favorite animals of all time, wasn't actually the fastest land animal, I was completely shocked.

According to Christian Science Monitor, a tiny mite actually has the fastest land speed of any creature on the planet. These little dudes are so small, you might miss them if you blink or don't notice a sesame seed-sized bug crawling around near you. The mite was first identified in 1916 and given the name Paratarsotomus macropalpis. This tiny bug can cover a distance of 322 times its own body length in just a second. Compare that to the world's fastest runner, Usain Bolt , who can run 27.79 mph, which is six body lengths per second. If we wanted to match the mite's speed, we would need to run a ridiculous 1,300 miles per hour. Clearly, this is never going to happen. So, the mite is in no danger of losing it's title to us lowly humans.

The bug is native to Southern California and likes to chill out on rocks when it feels like being spotted and it's not breaking speed records. The mite beat out reigning world record holder Australian tiger beetle, which can run only a measly 171 body lengths per second. Relative speed and stride frequency, according to the research team, increases as a creature gets smaller. That means that the petite size of this bug makes it supremely fast. You would think that leg length would limit speeds greatly, but scientists are finding that not to be the case all the time. They're now wondering what the limit on speed will be as they study more critters and figure out how their body mechanics operate.

The physics of the mite and other fast creatures may eventually lead to development of faster robotics or moving electronic parts. I for one, am not a huge fan of bugs, but the mite's incredible speed is definitely something to stop and appreciate. Even though my favorite giant kitty may not really be the fastest land creature, I don't think they're too worried about a mite outrunning them when it comes down to a race. And all this talk of super short short legs not actually limiting speed has really made me want to try out running on my tiny legs. Maybe someday I can be a fast runner, but please don't hold your breath waiting for me to break any records other than my own.
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